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In Memoriam ~ Michael Richard (“Sam”) Smieja

Smieja, Michael Richard (“Sam”) 3/24/1964 – 5/14/2016, 52, of Scottsdale passed away unexpectedly on May 14, 2016.

Sam was born in Minneapolis, MN, on March 24, 1964, the middle of five children. He graduated from St. John’s Prep (Class of 1983) in Collegeville, MN, and then headed to Drake University, where he was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity.

He met his future wife, Chi Duong, at Drake and graduated in 1989. Post-graduation, Sam worked in Chicago as an accountant and then joined Chi in Kansas City, where she was attending medical school. Later, Chi and Sam moved to Phoenix, where they married in 1995, and he later obtained a Master’s degree in Construction Management from Arizona State University. Most recently, he worked for Hill International as the Chief Construction Engineer at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

The loves of Sam’s life were his wife, Chi, and their beautiful children, Isabelle (“Izzy”) and Cole. Sam and Chi enjoyed nine fun-filled years prior to having kids but his life became complete with the arrival of his two children. He rescued two puggle littermates, Olivia and Claire, that incessantly tested his patience but he loved them and enjoyed his walks with them around the neighborhood.

He was the go-to-guy for both the Smieja and Duong families and was the connector across everyone, coordinating trips and holiday events, as well as being the personal handyman for all. Outside of his family, Sam’s recent passions were flying and sailing. He enjoyed many a flight with his aviation friends and was in the process of pursuing his pilot’s license. His love of the ocean afforded him many sailing trips, including an especially memorable one with Izzy and Cole last fall in the San Diego Bay. He also enjoyed the outdoors and hiked many beautiful trails in Arizona with Chi and their friends. Sam was a social, kind and generous person. He always looked out for his family and friends. When Sam was called to lend a helping hand, he always did it graciously. He could spark a conversation with anyone anywhere, getting their life story in ways that others could not, and often times that would be at his favorite local watering hole, Four Peaks Brewing Company in Scottsdale.

Sam was loved by countless family and friends who will miss him dearly: a beloved husband, father, son, brother, friend and colleague. He is survived by his wife of 21 years, Chi; daughter Isabelle; son Cole; father Richard (Shari) of Peoria; mother MaryAnn of Minnesota; siblings Kim (Dean), Rochelle (Bob), Mark (Mary) and Heather (Jason); parents-in-law, Quang and Tonkinh, of Anaheim, CA; siblings-in-law Hue (Thong), Mimi (Paul), Giao (Carl), Lam and Tram; and many nieces and nephews.

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