Abner “Sam” Sampson, a vacuum cleaner salesman who rose to own a vacuum cleaner franchise and a nightclub, Washington’s “Air-Way VIP Room,” died May 23 of bone cancer at his home in Washington. He was 78.
Mr. Sampson sold Air-Way vacuum cleaners in the District from the 1960s until 2004 and was named Air-Way Salesman of the Year more than once. He sold door-to-door for years and met his future wife on one particularly fortunate house call. In 1978, he purchased an Air-Way franchise in Washington.
In addition to thriving in the vacuum cleaner business, Mr. Sampson expanded his service to selling carpet, drapes and rental properties. In 1978, he opened the Air-Way VIP Room, a banquet hall for birthday parties, anniversary celebrations and church functions. Both the VIP room and the vacuum business closed in 2004.
Abner Sampson was born Oct. 6, 1932, in Goldsboro, N.C., to Clarence and Pearline Faulkner Sampson. He played football and basketball at Allen University in Charleston, S.C., where he earned a bachelor’s degree in biology.