Samuel Thomas McBurnett

Samuel Thomas McBurnett, 21, of Clear Lake, Texas, passed away on August 27, 2022.  He was born October 12, 2000, in Houston, Texas.  An accomplished Clear Lake High School graduate and scholarship University of Texas Mechanical Engineering Honors student following the Nuclear & Radiation Engineering Technical Track, Samuel was slated to begin graduate studies to obtain his Ph.D. in nuclear engineering next fall. His passion for the nuclear industry was always at the heart of his academic pursuits, from the topics of the documentaries watched in his elementary school free time to the questions explored in his 8th grade Texas Performance Standards Project to his undergraduate jobs, internships, and class selections. Most recently, he conducted undergraduate nuclear research with the UT ME Department, assisting the Nuclear Engineering Teaching Lab during the school year and interning at Los Alamos National Laboratory over the summer, being named a winner in the 2022 LANL Student Symposium for his significant contributions to a cutting-edge computer algorithm used to design radiation shields using artificial intelligence.  Samuel’s engineering interests also spanned beyond nuclear: with three internships at the NASA Johnson Space Center, he worked with Space Suit and Crew Survival Systems, Pressure Garment Systems, and Portable Life Support Systems.

Samuel loved music and was a talented saxophone player, earning his place as an All-State musician on tenor saxophone and performing at Miller Outdoor Theater for the Houston Young Artist Concert competition.  As a drill instructor in the marching band, he led his ensemble to the AREA UIL Marching Band Finals.  An Eagle Scout, Samuel enjoyed backpacking and camping, volunteer projects, and living by the scout oath.  He was a certified PADI diver and spent many weekends this summer hiking and scaling peaks in northern New Mexico and Colorado. His excitement for his personal interests knew no bounds; his encyclopedic knowledge of the world included expertise in history, coffee-making, cigars, cars, internal combustion engines, ham radio, 3D printing, lockpicking, hiking, Chernobyl, Hokusai prints, rock/metal/country/rap music, criminal psychology, underwater welding, fountain pens, Formula 1, video games, surfing, tools, electric guitar — the list goes on.

Samuel’s passion for cars led him to learn to weld (stick, MIG, and TIG), and he honed his skills enough to earn his machine-shop certification and teach welding processes to undergraduates; in fact, Samuel served as the Frame Subsystem Lead and the Lead Welder for the Longhorn Racing Team. He was always tinkering with something, but he had special pride having rebuilt a 1992 Jeep YJ engine, joyfully driving the remodeled vehicle about town.

Samuel enjoyed traveling the world with his family and experiencing different cultures and traditions.  Immersing himself into the customs and arts, he thrived in learning and creating his own adventures.

With the notion that he might come up with a better solution than what was conventionally accepted, Samuel never took knowledge he hadn’t obtained for himself as fact and was determined to develop his own, unique methodology for learning or solving problems.  He devised his own unorthodox but highly effective way to crawl (army-man style), formulated an unconventional knot to tie shoelaces (from which he never strayed), and taught himself to derive any equations necessary to ace a test knowing simple memorization could be faulty; through these instances and infinitely many more, he made it a point to do everything his own way.

In his mother’s vernacular, Samuel was “extra.”  He pursued his myriad passions with an uncommon zeal, only content when he became an expert in each.  Consequently, he accumulated quite a collection of various and sundry items associated with his interests – three welding machines, drawers full of old electric drills he disassembled and repaired, multiple surf boards, five guitars, scores of fountain pens, and bins full of scrap steel and aluminum with practice welds on every surface.  Never one to rest on his laurels, he recently – much to his parents’ chagrin – bought a dilapidated 1972 Honda motorcycle, repaired it, and rode it around town.   

Samuel was a good friend, quick to give a smile, laugh, and kind word to everyone. He relished helping others, whether by offering his technical acumen, by cracking an uplifting, goofy comment, or simply by making those around him feel loved.  He has been an inspiration to many for his generosity and compassion. He sincerely wished his brother Jack greater success than he had achieved, and never failed to call and text his mother on a daily basis. Samuel shared his time with the love of his life, Camille, and together they were inseparable – even when he insisted they travel in the Jeep despite its lack of air conditioning.

Samuel is survived by his parents Matt and Jennifer McBurnett, brother Jack McBurnett, maternal grandparents Marvin and Charlotte Jeffus, paternal grandparents Shiela Ferguson and Mark McBurnett (preceded), Uncle Jason Jeffus, Aunt Nara Jeffus, cousins Liam and Mina Jeffus, and soulmate and partner Camille Villar.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, September 10, 2022, at 3:30 PM at Clear Lake Presbyterian Church with a reception to follow.

The family would appreciate it if you could share a special memory of Samuel on the digital guestbook and welcomes donations to a memorial fund in Samuel’s name benefiting the Clear Lake High School Falcon Band ( or to the Houston Humane Society (


  1. Sam, I love you forever. You’re my forever soulmate, and I don’t know what I’m going to do without you. I miss you more than anything. Love, Camille

    Camille Villar
    • Thinking of you, Camille, and sharing in your sadness.

      Tin & Ching
    • Sam, I loved how deeply you loved Camille. Almost nine years ago, I remember standing by you as you asked Camille to be your girlfriend at a Build-a-Bear workshop. Almost four weeks ago, you asked me how you could surprise Camille during an extremely busy week just so you could make her happy.
      You were selfless, consistent, and reliable. You were intelligent, talented, and thoughtful. You were a constant source of security for everyone around you, and your memory will live on through the lives you impacted so greatly.

      Christa Westheimer
    • Camille,
      I am so sorry. Your grief must be devastating. Words for comfort. What a deep, empty hole this must leave.
      Kathryn Duncan

      Kathryn Duncan
    • Camille, my condolences to you and to the McBurnett family. Thinking of you and praying for comfort as you all grieve.

      -Mrs. Jones

      Dora Jones
    • I’m so sorry to hear about his passing. I didn’t talk to him much but I remember he was a great guy and a wonderful saxophone player back at Westbrook.

      Eric Stahmer
  2. I remember the first time Samuel came over to our house and smiled and was gracious in such an unassuming way, way too mature for a 6th grader. We all fell in love with him, listened for his laughter, stocked the fridge with Coke, and celebrated that Ben had a buddy he could count on. We are heartbroken with you.

  3. That was so beautiful. I missed out on so much. You raised a wonderful person. Dad was so proud of him. With all the interests that were listed it reminds me of Dad talking about Grandpa Harry. He always said he was a genius. Always inventing and tinkering. I think Samuel must have inherited a lot of that. May the love of Christ guard your hearts and minds and bring you comfort.

    Emily Morgan
    • Sam was such a kind, good, and talented friend. He will surely be missed and definitely remembered.

      Marissa Green
  4. Dear Jennifer and Matt:

    We are so very saddened to hear of the unexpected death of your loving son Samuel. He was such a handsome, wonderful and accomplished young man. We personally understand the awful grief and heartache of losing a son and are so sorry for the pain you are suffering.

    With heartfelt sympathy,

    Margaret and Scott Blanchard

    Margaret and Scott Blanchard
  5. Samuel was an amazing young man – even from the beginning of his Eagle journey in Troop 870. It now falls to the rest of us to pick up where he left off: to bring light to a sad world made darker by his premature absence.

    Mike Lovelace
  6. Jennifer, Matt, Jack, and family,

    What a beautiful tribute to an exceptional young man. We are forever grateful for the friendship he and Aidan shared. We will always have such fond memories of him from band, especially. We are so sorry for the loss and grief you all are experiencing. May your many happy memories comfort you in your sorrow, and May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.

    Love & prayers,

    Matt Vogel & Kathy Bucher

    Kathleen Bucher
  7. Samuel was an exceptional young man. Our deepest sympathies and condolences to the McBurnett family and Samuel’s friends.

    David and Rebecca Forrest
  8. To Our Dearest Sam,
    Each moment we live in this world is precious. Thank you for those times that you spent with us. Thank you for your love and friendship and being a son to us. Joe and Mayet Villar

    Joe and Mayet Villar
  9. To Samuel’s friends and family:
    Samuel worked with our group this summer at Los Alamos National Laboratory. We were deeply saddened to learn of his passing. Samuel was a great person that we were all fortunate and blessed to have met. We immediately recognized his intelligence and also quickly recognized what an amazing person he was. He loved to talk to us about trucks, hiking, nuclear engineering, and was so easy to talk to. Our group is a very closely knit group that I often tell people is more of a family than a group of coworkers and Samuel quickly became one of the family. We learned so much from Samuel and are happy that we were all fortunate to have met him and become friends with him during our brief time with him. He will be deeply missed and we will keep all of you in our thoughts and in our prayers.

    Francis J. Martinez
  10. Jennifer and Matt,
    I was so sorry to hear of Sam’s passing. My love and prayers go out to you and you have my deepest condolences for your loss. Love and prayers from my family to yours.

    Travis L Limper
  11. Jennifer and Matt,

    We are so sorry for your loss. We will keep all of you in our thoughts and prayers.

    Urmila Nilesh Chaudhari
  12. My sincerest condolences to the McBurnett family, Camille and Sam’s many closest of friends. I truly enjoyed seeing him accomplish his Eagle Scout status years ago and also the time spent in New Orleans with him and his family, Camille, and Jennifer & Reed. My heart is so sad for those that loved him so dearly. His charismatic energy will remain and be felt by many forever. I wish my words could somehow ease your sorrow. Much love,

    Jeri Danforth
  13. To Mcburnett family,
    Our sincerest condolences to you and Camille. We’ve known Sam through Camille. He was a smart, kind and loving boyfriend to Her. We’re praying that God will give you strength during this very difficult time. 🙏🙏🙏 – the Asuncions

    Monina, Chad Asuncion and family
  14. Sam you were such exceptional guy, You and Jim shared an easyfriendship- you got each other. Life may have taken you to UT and Jim to Alabama but you were the kind of friends that could just pick up from wherever you left off. The years you spent together at WAVE created a bond- from a 7th grade science teacher who didn’t like you 2, lunches where Jim was the only non band kid, to creating an epic video for Algebra and being there for beginning of your relationship with Camille. Those memories will last a lifetime and bring a smile whenever we think of you.

    The Selmarten family
  15. Jennifer,
    I am so very sorry for your loss. Praying for all of you during this devastating time.

    Lannie Bluethmann
  16. Jen and Matt,
    Wish we had known Sam past his early days, but having known you both at 21 we can imagine his personality and your tribute paints a beautiful picture. The loss you and all who loved Sam feel is immense. We are so sorry for the pain and grief you are experiencing now. Our hearts break with yours.
    Kristin and Kevin Hamm

    Kristin Hamm
  17. Jennifer and Family, I am so saddened and heart broken about your amazing son! My love and prayers go out to you! Your family has always been so special to me. May God give you the comfort and strength you need to handle this great loss! Much love!

    Janet Wells
  18. I remember Sam being a good friend and as a person who truly cared for the people around him. As a parent of one of his friends, I knew Sam from stories and by seeing him from time to time.
    He always brought positive energy; and he was an incredibly brilliant man with immeasurable talents. I feel blessed to know him. And I am sorrow for your loss.

  19. When Sam was 1-2 yrs old he would walk into my house and go straight to the vacuum cleaner. I hope you can feel my virtual hugs and kisses, & me wiping your tears along with my own. I don’t think I will Ever get over this.

    I love you, Jennifer, Matt and Jack Henry…and Sam, forever.

    Paula Voss
  20. As his teacher, I thoroughly enjoyed Sam’s wit and divergent thinking. He was part of my small, but tight-knit, 7th period class during the 2017-2018 school year. We endured many challenges that year – Hurricane Harvey being the most prominent. Through it all, we survived and grew stronger together. As you read about his exceptional talents, you will notice that he was an engineer at heart. My English class caused Sam a bit of anxiety because the answers weren’t always black and white nor the writing formulaic. Yet, Sam always embraced this ambiguity as a chance to grow and learn.

    A few years later, I had Sam’s brother Jack in my class. My heart hurts for Jack as I know how close he and Sam were. Teachers only have students for a year, but they stay with us for a lifetime. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to the McBurnett family and all his friends as Sam is laid to rest today. My life was enriched having known him.

    Lindy Goodwin
    • I have thought about that 7th period class a lot during the past 2 weeks. Samuel definitely challenged me to think differently and thoroughly about my opinions in that class — I will never forget our many debates about Into the Wild. Bittersweet memories, like those from that class, make me wish I could rewind time and relive those moments again; he will be dearly missed.

      Lauren Lillie
  21. I had the pleasure of being Samuel’s kindergarten teacher. Even at that young age, it was evident he was someone pretty special. His curiosity knew no boundaries and his positive attitude made my class really fun! I wish I could post pictures of the good times we had. He actively participated in everything… figuring out how things worked excited him. He loved it when I brought my SCUBA gear to class and I could see those gears in his mind turning as his eyes traced the hoses to the second stage.

    His heart showed through too…he was so kind and thoughtful. It seems those characteristics stayed with him his entire life.
    To his awesome parents, brother, other family members, and friends I give my deepest sympathies.

    Amy Phillips
  22. Jennifer, Matt, and Jack – We are very sorry for your enormous loss and offer our deepest condolences to you from our family. Our kids have been remembering and relating their time in high school together with Sam and Jack. We wish you all strength and peace during this difficult time.

    Rishikof family
  23. Camille,
    I’m so sorry for your loss. Praying that fond memories as well as God’s love will surround you and give you peace. Sending you, your family and the McBurnett family love and prayers.
    My deepest sympathy,
    Teresa Teaster

    Teresa Teaster
  24. So very sorry for your loss! Many fond memories of Samuel in CLHS Band at weekly football games, regular competitions, and annual trips. Glad he was a positive classmate, bandmate and friend to my daughter. He was an amazing young man! Peace of the Lord be with his family, friends, and acquaintances.

    Lisa Lillie
  25. I write this knowing I don’t have the words to express how I’m feeling, but I can share how much I loved getting to grow up around a wonderful kid like Sam. He could always figure out anything. He always seemed older than me and I’m so proud of the man he grew up to be. My love to Jack, Jennifer, and Matt from all the Vaughn family.

    Cole Vaughn
  26. I miss you all the time. I wish we were graduating together again. It feels like no time will ever heal the hole you left in the world. I hope I see you again someday.

    Molly Schaff
  27. Thinking about my guy today. One of the fondest relationships I’ve ever had in my life. Sam was without question destined for success, but that’s not what I remember him for. I remember him as the person he was, not the accolades that he achieved. He was witty, thoughtful, caring, and unapologetically himself in every way. He owned it. He taught me how to be comfortable with living “outside the box.” His legacy will live on with all of those who knew him. Just like he saved me a seat at his graduation dinner celebration, he will always have a seat at my table. We miss you dude. Psalms 34:18

    Miles Morgan
  28. Such a tragedy! Such a wonderful young man! He was one of my students that will always stand out to me! I know he would have made great contributions to the world! Most sincerely felt! Kathy Brady, so cherish him as a student in my fourth grade class!

    Kathy Brady

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