Donald Samuels, former Broward School Board chairman, dies at 80

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Donald Samuels, a former chairman of the Broward School Board who devoted his career and spare time to education, died Sunday. He was 80.

Samuels served on the School Board for 16 years, three times as chairman, and considered his work for Broward County schools to be among his proudest achievements, said his daughter, Jodi Samuels Shir.

“His life was being on the School Board,” Shir said. “It made him so successful and happy.”

For a full-time job, Samuels worked as an administrator in Miami-Dade schools, specializing in programs for teen pregnancy, drug abuse and alternatives to suspension.

But his heart was always in Broward, where he was among the initiators of the BRACE scholarship program, which offers college financial assistance to talented students, and Peer Counseling programs, in which students work with their fellow students to improve discipline and academic skills.

He wrote a guide, the Complete Handbook of Peer Counseling, in 1975 with his wife, Mimi. She died in 2002.

Samuels was born in the Bronx in 1939. In 1965, he moved with his wife to Florida, where he got a master’s degree in education from Florida Atlantic University and a doctorate in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University.

He and his wife raised their two children in Hollywood.

He served on the Broward School Board from 1980 to 1992, when he ran for County Commission but lost to Suzanne Gunzburger. He was re-elected to the School Board in 1994 and lost to Stephanie Kraft in the 1998 campaign. He ran against Kraft again in 2010 but lost in a crowded field.

Samuels is survived by his children, Jodi and Brian, and five grandchildren. Funeral services, open to the public, will be at Beth David Memorial Gardens, 3201 N. 72nd Ave., Hollywood, at 12 p.m. Wednesday. Burial will be private.

Lsolomon@sunsentinel.com



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