Inheriting a CSULB Family

Sam Pinterpe

Sam Pinterpe. Photo by David J. Nelson.

While staff emeritus Sam Pinterpe may not be a CSULB alumnus, his relationship with the campus is certainly a family affair. Pinterpe, who served as a pharmacist in Student Health Services (SHS) from 1971 to 1995, was preceded by his brother, Dominick, who earned a B.S. degree in business in 1968. His niece, Diana, received a B.A. degree in liberal studies in 1990, followed by two teaching credentials.

“My brother was the first Pinterpe to graduate college, and I was the second with a degree from the University of Arizona in 1970,” Pinterpe said proudly. “Both of my parents are from Italy. My mom is from Sicily and came here in 1921. My dad was from Abruzzi and arrived in the U.S. in 1933. Although my parents never spoke Italian in the home, I could always tell how angry my father was by which language he was using. If he was yelling at me in English, I was okay, but as soon as he started yelling at me in Italian I knew I was in real trouble.”

Born in Flint, Mich., Pinterpe moved to California in 1947 “in time to see the Spruce Goose fly,” he said. “It seems like I’ve been out here my whole life. Besides, I don’t like cold weather. All the ice I want to see is in my freezer. It’s also the reason I chose to run track at the University of Arizona instead of UC San Francisco.”

Pinterpe joined CSULB in 1971 and met several other “noteworthy” people: his father-in-law, Robert Romano, who served as a building engineer in the Housing Department from 1968-90 and passed away in June (see “In Memoriam” for his obituary); his wife, Karen, who worked in SHS from 1976-83; and one of his closest friends, Bill LeBoeuf, who was a physician at SHS from 1969-76. “CSULB was a great place to work,” Pinterpe commented. “Everybody was a team member regardless of title. During the summer, if it was slow, I would file charts or sweep the floor. I had no qualms about doing any of it.”

Upon his retirement from CSULB in 1995, Pinterpe worked as a consulting pharmacist for Planned Parenthood of Orange County for 10 years. While limited in his ability to travel due to a back injury, he has toured Northern California, British Columbia and Mexico, but his favorite destination is Arizona. “My wife’s parents lived in Prescott, so we have traveled to Arizona a lot,” Pinterpe explained. “I love the history of the Wild West; I love Native American culture, the art—there are a lot of things to admire about it. When you spend five years in Tucson, you’re bound to pick up something about Native Americans. My wife and I have visited the Navajo Nation’s Canyon de Chelly National Monument. It’s unbelievably beautiful and in the middle of nowhere. You can’t see it on your way to anywhere else; you have to go there specifically.”

Another favorite pastime for Pinterpe is driving his 1971 Jaguar XJ6, which has 237,000 miles on the odometer. “When I was attending Arizona, one of my roommates had an old Jaguar (1960 or ’61), and I just fell in love with the interior,” he said with a fond smile. “I told myself that one of these days I was going to buy one. The engine is a dual overhead cam six and is one of the quietest and smoothest running engines ever built. It’s designed to cruise at 100 mph. I’ve had the car up to 130 mph but don’t tell the Nevada Highway Patrol. I bought the car in 1974 and have kept it all these years because it’s the most beautiful car I’ve ever seen and because I knew I could never afford another one.”

Pinterpe remains a great believer in state education. Before attending the University of Arizona, he finished two years at Long Beach City College. “Some people complain about a state education,” he said. “I’ve heard derogatory comments about community colleges, but I see nothing wrong with the education I received. I think if you put something into a class, you’ll get something out. If you’re just going to sit there like a lump on a log, you can pay $40,000 and go to Stanford, but you’re not going to learn anything. I also think CSULB is a great place to go to school. When everyone gets a college education, society benefits.”

Since retiring, Pinterpe has stayed in touch with the campus. He and his wife attend Concerts in the Grove and events at the Carpenter Center, and they support the 49er Athletic Association. “My favorite sports are track and baseball,” he said. “Track doesn’t get a lot of press. The Orange County Register doesn’t cover CSULB. We also get the Los Angeles Times, but they rarely cover Long Beach State. The only time I get news is when I read the Press-Telegram at my mom’s home in Lakewood.”

During the 2012 Summer Olympics, he and his wife cheered on Misty May and Kerri Walsh as they competed against April Ross and Jennifer Kessy and won their third consecutive Olympic beach volleyball gold medal. He was delighted that the final game included an all-California match up.

As a Legacy Society member, Pinterpe also supports the university. “CSULB was a fun place to work, and I made a lot of good friends,” he commented. “I worked there for 24 years. I just thought I should give something back.”