Sam Asa Hines was born on March 17, 1932 to Frank Hines and Sarah Evans Hines. He was one of ten children. Hines served in the U.S. Army beginning in 1955 and was honorably discharged in 1956. He went on to work for Hampden-Sydney for more than 18 years as a well-loved janitor and bell ringer. A 1973 issue of “The Tiger” states,
Every morning the students are awakened at 7:30 a.m. (unless you’re a heavy sleeper) by the ringing of the bell by Sam Hines, or (as he is affectionately known) “Sam the Bellman.” His warm friendly smile has greeted many a sleepy student on his way to class. One sees sam every day because he has never missed a day of work.
Talking with this man, one gets the feeling that he is at peace with himself and the world, a man who derives great joy from the simple pleasures of life, like rabbit hunting on a brisk morning or playing with his baby boy, Sam’s pride and joy. The boy was born not long ago and was the fifth child in his family. After cleaning Morton Hall and ringing the bell, Sam likes to go home to his farm near Meherrin, where he grows tobacco and tends to his pigs and chickens.
His gentle laughter echoes in the bell tower when Sam tells stories of how students used to try to bribe him to keep ringing the bell until they could get to class, or of how students would cut the bell rope or wrap towels around the clapper to prevent the bell from being run.
Three years ago Sam’s world was invaded by modern technology, in the form of the electric chimes in Venable Hall. Now sam competes every day with the modern world in his own small battle.
In 1978, “The Tiger” referred to Sam again–
For the past eleven years, Sam Hines has been telling Hampden-Sydney students when to go to class, and he has been doing it without saying a word. Sam strolls out to the Watkins Bell Tower six or seven times a day and pulls the rope that rings the bell that sets the school in motion.”
Sam’s wife, Alice V. Hines, also worked for the college as a custodian in Gilmer and Morton halls. She retired in 2007 after serving the college for over 30 years.