Warner H. Thibodeau "Sam Tidwell"

Warner H. Thibodeau A.K.A “Sam Tidwell” 75, of Cranston, Rhode Island died at home Monday April 30, 2012. He was pre-deceased by his first wife Dorothy (Cournoyer) Thibodeau, brothers Robert D. Thibodeau, William H. Parker, and a sister Mary Parker. His wife and children were at his bedside when he passed. He leaves his beloved wife Edith (Dwyer) Thibodeau  of Cranston, a brother William H. Thibodeau of Maine, eight children, 17 grand-children, and eight great-grandchildren. Mr. Thibodeau was a devoted father to his children David, Marc, and William Thibodeau, Linda Sawyer, Kathleen Richards, Debra (Thompson) Roberts, Frank and James Thompson. Warner placed special emphasis on his children’s education stressing the importance of finishing high school and college. He was born on August 11,1936 in Chepachet, Rhode Island to the late William H. and Clara L. (Ducharme) Thibodeau. He was educated in the Burrillville and Glocester Public School systems before joining the Air Force where he was an Airborne radar specialist. “Sam” as he was more commonly known, was a bombardier and gunner on a B-26 in the Korean War. He attained his final rank of Staff Sergeant when he returned to Texas to complete his tour of duty. While working full time at Raytheon he earned an Associate Degree in Electrical Engineering.  Through the years, he had several occupations including owning The Trading Post in Chepachet where he bought and sold antiques. He owned various music stores where he taught eager students how to play stringed instruments. In addition he bought, sold, and repaired instruments. His love of music was instilled in him by his father who was a concert violinist for the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra.  This fascination brought him on a journey that he traveled for well over fifty years. Beginning in 1955, his first bands were of the Country genre, but he kept looking for other musicians interested in Bluegrass music where he could play banjo. By the mid ‘60s he formed his first Bluegrass band, The Cedar Mountain Boys with his younger brother Bobby who learned to play bass with his encouragement to become their bass player.  In between working with his own bands, He went on tour with notables such as Red Smiley in 1966, Don Stover in 1973 and Jud Strunk in 1975. After leaving Rhode Island, Sam lived for many years in Maine until he and Edie retired to Florida where he joined other bands, most notably, The Cypress Creek Band. The Kennebec Valley Boys was probably the most well known of his bands and had a following throughout Maine. In addition to his musical abilities he was most remembered for his entertaining stories told on stage. His showmanship made him the natural entertainer and spokesman for the bands. In 1975 The Kennebec Valley Boys were honored with the Best Bluegrass Band in Maine award by the Maine Country Music Association. Sam, a founding member of the KVB, was playing mandolin at the time. Since he was an accomplished musician able to play violin/fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin, bass [and the piano when he was near one] he was a valuable asset to each group. His vocal harmony part of choice was baritone. He made many recordings throughout the years with several bands. He wrote several songs including The Last Log Drive which was used as background music for a Maine documentary and is listed in the Library of Congress. Sam and Edie were interviewed by International Bluegrass Music Association [IBMA] as Pioneers of Bluegrass music in the country. Considered a New England Bluegrass pioneer, he was awarded the Joe Val Heritage Award in 2011. The Bluegrass Association of Maine also recognized him as a pioneer of Bluegrass music. A tribute to Sam was given in his honor June 2009 in Sterling, Connecticut where several hundred fans attended a day of music dedicated to Sam who joined in with various bands on stage. Even though he has passed, the Thibodeau music tradition is carried on by his three sons, David, Marc, Bill and several grandchildren. A celebration of life will be announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, you may make donations to Home and Hospice Care of Rhode Island, 1085 N Main Street, Providence, RI 02904.

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Ken and Jan (Gallant) Brilhante, Taunton,ma - 05/03/2012

So sorry to hear of his passing. Got to talk to him before his award at JVF, about Fred, Randy, Sky and my Dad, Joe...good times sadly missed.

Sharon Reynolds - 05/03/2012

Hugs and prayers to the whole family.

Anne Somers - 05/03/2012

So sorry to hear this sad news-know you are in my thoughts and prayers-sending hugs-Anne

Myrna Riquier - 05/03/2012

I feel very fortunate that I knew Sam. My condolences to his lovely wife Edie and to all of their children.

Gail Hodgdon Craft - 05/03/2012

So sorry to hear this. What a great and fun man. Excellent musician who will be missed by the many lives he touched. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

Jon Verdun - 05/03/2012

Sam was an inspiration when I was starting out in Bluegrass in Waterville, ME back in the early 70's. I valued him as a mentor, a fellow musician, and a friend. It is gratifying to see the tradition being carried on by his boys. I shall miss him.

Bill and Linda DeLong - 05/03/2012

Lots of great memories of the bluegrass festivals and get togethers. You are in our thoughts and prayers

Jack & Jane Pronovost - 05/03/2012

So sorry to hear the sad news. We met Sam shortly after moving to Maine in 1970. Lots of fine music memories

Kathy Noble Vining - 05/04/2012

So Sorry To Have Heard Of Sam's Passing. He was Such a Great Man. We used to be neighbors back in Maine. I will always remember the Jokes and the most tallented Bluegrass Musician.

Gerry & Fay Weese - 05/04/2012

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Edie and the family. "Our" Sam was a wonderful teacher, mentor and friend. We love you both.

Clifford & Jean Johnson - 05/04/2012

Sam was one of the first people we met at our very first Salty Dog Festival in Cambridge. We had come from Texas to attend the festival with my mom and dad. What a thrill it was to meet Sam, Fred Pike and Smokey Greene!
We will never forget those memories!

Fred Warner - 05/05/2012

Rest in Peace, Sam. You and Fred, Bobby and Billy were a big part of my early Bluegrass years and I'll never forget any of you. I so much enjoyed your musicianship, humor and friendship.

Pat Thibodeau - 05/07/2012

So sorry to learn of Sam's passing. I recently learned that Sam was my 2nd cousin and I'm sorry not to have met him. May he Rest in Peace.

Ann & Bob Lawrence, Hope Valley - 05/07/2012

Dear Edie & Family:
So sorry to hear of Sam's passing. Although Sam was not a close friend, we certainly enjoyed listening to his music and jokes while on stage. We saw him in New England as well as in Florida. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

Debbie Hall - 05/07/2012

Edie, Sam's music enriched my life and lives on, in my heart. I was honored to have the opportunity to get to know him as family. Rest in Peace Sam.

Al & Barbara Hawkes - 05/07/2012

We are very sorry for the passing of Sam. He brought so much great Bluegrass music to Maine and New England. What great stories he could tell and put smiles on everyone's face.
He will be missed....God Bless him.

Ron @ Rose - 05/08/2012

Sam your memory and music is locked forever

in our hearts, so rest in peace our dear


Paula Lusignan - 05/08/2012

Linda and family, so sorry to hear of your Dad's passing. May he rest in peace.

Jerry Leveille - 05/08/2012

I loved this man. I played music with him since the early 60's in Pascoag. Even thought I was a "rock-n-roller" Sam always apprieciated all the music. Later, he was instrumental in the sucess of our fund raising shows in Burrillville. he was the best!

Ginny Girard - 05/08/2012

Dear Edie,So sorry to hear of Sams passing,He will surely be missed by his many bluegrass freinds and pickers.I very much enjoyed all our times we could play together. Rest in peace Sam.

denyce - 05/08/2012

Edith you are in my thoughts and prayers......I feel honored to have met the two of you and to be able to call you my favorite couple.... and my friends......I always enjoyed our visits .....and I usually would overstay...because the laughs were never ending..... The two of you together were something you really dont see too much of these days.....I will hold you close in prayers .....and know....He just was a GREAT GUY!!! and you a GREAT GIRL!!! xo d

Marcel Huguenin - 05/09/2012

Sam - The best of the best, till we meet again in Glory Land. Marcel & Jo-Ann

Stan and Liz Keach - 05/09/2012

We have many extraordinary memories of traveling and playing music with Sam. We refer to our time in The Kennebec Valley Folks as our Bluegrass Graduate School. Sam was a wonderful musician, a great teacher, a superb humorist, a wonderful friend. Our hearts go out to Edie and the family.

Ann Thibodeau Nowak - 05/10/2012

Sincerest condolences to Sam's Family

Steve Salisbury - 05/10/2012

So very Sorry to hear of Uncle Sam's passing. His music was always Great to hear and his Stories always made me laugh. My Sincerest Condolences to his entire Family

Phyllis (Auclair) Gustafson - 05/12/2012

My sympathy goes out to Edith and your family. I was friend to Edith and graduated with her. Such a nice person. I also remember Sam...he sat behind me in home room. He was a nice guy even back then. Edith and Sam must have made a wonderful couple. My love goes to you Edith. With passing of time, if you would like to contact me, I would love to hear from you. Contact me at lottarockfarm@aol.com. Again, my deepest sympathy.

Mary Jo, Orono, St.Andrews, NB - 06/08/2012

So sorry to learn of your father's passing. Bill was my banjo teacher for introductory lessons and he shared his enthusiasm for music and his father. Our parents live on through us and all those we touch. Thanks, Bill

Carol Smith Lynn Anderson - 06/08/2012

Dearest Edie, My sincerest sympathy to you. I didn't know "Sam", but know you and remember when your Dad and my Dad, Smitty worked at Peck's Farm. Please let me know when you are having a celebration of his life....Sure he was a terrific guy and would love to see you and help you celebrate his life. I have such fond and wonderful memories of you....God Bless

Brian and Sue Zahn - 06/11/2012

Dear Edie and family, we just found out about Sam. He will be greatly missed by many. What fun times we had with him when we were RVing. Brian says what a true gentleman --he loved Hiram Hoehandle!! LOL!!Our thoughts and prayers go out to you and yours. Please let us know the date for his celebration of life. Love , Brian and Sue

Wynona Randall - 11/05/2012

Hi Edie:
I just learned of Sam's passing. Please know that I think of you often and wish you well.

Samuel Warner Thibodeau - 03/30/2014

I apologize for being late on condolence, it was hard for me to say anything without being sad, I am the grandson of Sam as you can read from my name. I always looked upto him even though we rarley talked. I knew he was a great muscision and an amazing man. I always wanted to see him again in person. When I learend he passed it was a great pain. He lived a happy life and im sure he is at peace. I will find a way to keep the TidWell name going.

-Love Samuel

penny johnson - 10/22/2014

There was a side to him many many people never knew

Jens Lund - 12/02/2017

Loved visiting his & Fred Pike music store in Plainfield, CT, in the ‘60s & loved jamming with him too. Still have a ‘54 Gibson J-50 I bought from him in ‘66.

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