Cover photo for Earl Lightner's Obituary
1938 Earl 2019

Earl Lightner

July 25, 1938 — May 14, 2019

Earl Sams Lighten (Sam) passed away on May 14, 2019, in Lexington KY after a long battle with dementia.

He was born in New Rochelle, New York on July 25, 1938 to Camille Sams Lightener and Larry F. Lightner.  He was raised in Brownsville, Texas and graduated from Culver Military Institute and Southern Methodist University (1956).  After serving six months in the US Army he moved to New York City to join Merrill Lynch Investments Company.  He completed their investment training program and moved to Corpus Christi Texas where he was involved with several businesses as well as investments with Merrill Lynch.  There he met his wife of 53 years, Robin, started a family, and was invloved in many charities including Corpus Christi Symphony, Art Museum of South Texas, and the Earl C. Sams Foundation.  He was Treasurer of the Corpus Christi Yacht Club and their Vice Commodore.  After moving to Jackson Wyoming in 1976, he continued his philanthropy by serving on the board and as President of the Grand Teton Music Festival and the National Museum of Wildlife Art.  Additionally, he was a director for the Jackson State Bank, Chairman of the World Flying Fishing Contest, and President of Jack Dennis Sports.

Sam was avid at whatever he did.  He was an accomplished sailor having owned and raced several sailboats in the Bahamas, Bermuda, and Gulf of Mexico.  His favorite boat was "Scarlett."  He was a hunter of big game making two safaris to Africa, and hunting in Alaska, British Columbia, Idaho, and Wyoming.  He hunted birds as well as making many trips with friends to South Dakota.  His passion was fishing.  He often could be found fishing behind his home on Lake Creek or from his boat "Sunshine" in the Bahamas.

Sam was a great friend; warm, funny, and giving.  He cherished his friendships and family.  He is survived by his wife, Robin, two children Earl Sams Lightner Jr. (Liz) of Lander, WY and Camille Lightner Brunker (Jay), two beautiful granddaughters Isabel and Corinne of Lextington, KY, and his brother Larry Lightner (Sue) of Dallas, TX.

Sam will be buried at the Elliot Cemetery in Wilson, Wyoming.

In lieu of flowers the family asks that you consider a donation to the National Museum of Wildlife Art ( or the Grand Teton Music Festival (

A celebration of his life will be held at the National Museum of Wildlife Art on Tuesday May 28, 2019, from 5-7 p.m.  All friends are welcome.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Earl Lightner, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Starts at 5:00 pm

National Wildlife Museum

2820 Rungius Rd, Jackson, WY 83001

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