Born in the City of Spartanburg on October 1, 1921, Sam Means attended public schools in Spartanburg, attended preparatory school in Woodbury Forest, Virginia, and went on to the University of North Carolina. Upon receiving his Bachelor’s degree in 1942, he enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve and was commissioned an Ensign. He served as an officer on submarine chasers for the remainder of World War II. After the war, he attended the University of South Carolina School of Law, graduating first in his class, with one of the highest grade point averages of any graduate.
After receiving his LL.B. degree, Sam Means returned to Spartanburg to practice law. He began his practice with two of the foremost tutors of this age, Erskine Daniel and Donald Russell. The death of Erskine Daniel and the election of Donald Russell as president of USC left Sam alone. In 1952, he and R.E. Browne, III, joined together in a partnership that continued and expanded until Sam’s retirement at age 65.
Sam served as County Attorney for Spartanburg County from 1955–1962, representing the largest manufacturers and business interests, both local and national. He was a member of the American Bar Foundation, Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, served as a member of the Appellate Rules Committee of the U.S. Circuit Court for the 4th Judicial District, and was a member of the 4th Circuit Judicial Conference.
While still in the Navy, Sam married Elizabeth “Betty” Chapman from Spartanburg. They had two daughters, Sally and Alice. Betty Means predeceased Sam and in 1983 he married Mary Jane Means, who survived him.