During an early morning run to the gas station on Tuesday, September 29, a Gulfport resident stopped by the Citgo on 5227 Gulfport Blvd. S. Unlike other mornings, the doors weren’t open and the store looked dark.
Isam “Sammy” Ammoura, known for his infectious smile and famous Cuban sandwiches, had passed away earlier that day in his bed.
“Gulfport just lost one of the nicest guys ever,” wrote Mary Thompson on the Gulfport, Florida Facebook Page. “He was always so kind to me and treated my son and I like family.”
“Sammy was always straightforward, full of energy and fun to talk to,” said Gulfport Mayor Sam Henderson. “He told great stories about time on his boat and visits home overseas. He was the kind of guy who looked out for his customers like family. He told me when my daughter had been in the store for this or that, gave me a hard time for buying cigarettes and gave me Boar’s Head scraps for my dog. It breaks my heart that he’s gone. He loved this town and I don’t know anyone that didn’t love and respect him.”
Ammoura immigrated from the Middle East, where his mother still lives. He’s been a Gulfport staple for more than 20 years according to friends, most of whom started off as customers.
“It’s important for people to realize that he wasn’t just a gas station owner,” said Alisha Taylor, a friend of Ammoura. “I was broken-hearted when I found out the news. I worked next to him at the Bug Man and Habana Cafe and we talked daily and nightly after my shifts at both jobs. He always made sure I was safe and told stragglers to leave me alone. Being a younger female working in an office alone, I didn’t worry because I knew Sammy was right next door and his cameras faced our area so when I did have trouble, he always came out and scared away anyone that wasn’t supposed to be there. He was kind, loving and a protector.”
Taylor continued, “I always had a good day when I stopped in before work. His positivity was contagious.”
“Makes you realize that the people who make a difference in your daily life aren’t always the ones that you expect,” reflected Henderson.
Editor’s note: The Gabber can report that Ammoura’s family has been contacted and are coming to town but, as of press time, there is no information on a memorial or funeral. We will share that information when it becomes available.