Samuel Anthony Listi ‘60 is rooted in the St. Thomas terra firma.
The son of a tile contractor whose life was silenced all too soon, Listi nonetheless matured to reflect the Basilian commitment to fundamental scholarship that empowers discovery and creativity – from the marketplace to the classroom to the competition fields to fundraising to embracing student needs as if they were his own challenges.
2021 Hall of Honor inductee Colonel Timothy Gatlin ‘95, United States Army, describes Listi as “a life-long learner who never misses an opportunity to engage in robust discussions that incorporate competing perspectives and create the space for innovative thought to emerge. Sam is a thinker and his intellectual curiosity has a purpose that has helped him shape a generation of leaders across business, political, and military domains. Sam Listi is the servant leader we all aspire to be.”
The roots of Listi’s monumental ascent date to his Garden Oaks upbringing nearly 80 years ago. Sam’s father suddenly passed away when Listi was seven years old delivering an uncertain future. Fr. Paul Pieri, the first pastor of St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church where the Listis were parishioners, injected a much-needed jolt of optimism: “Sam is going to attend St. Thomas, whether I pay for it or we find some other means.”
Fr. Pieri made good on his pledge and launched a relationship that extends well into the new millennium. Listi thrived in the Basilian educational experience. He then earned his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Architecture from Texas A&M Unversity, becoming the first college graduate in the family while participating in the renowned Corp of Cadets and rising to the rank of lieutenant of Company E-1.
Listi Architects, Inc was founded and operated for nearly a half-century with attention to concept and detail, adept and nimble use of technology, and a commitment to the well-being and sustainability of not only buildings but people. Listi explicitly acknowledged the need to embed ethics in innovation and accomplishment, to consider the societal impact of his work.
“My father always had the utmost integrity,” says Listi’s son, Tony ‘89. “He treated business partners and clients fairly and honestly. That’s how he lived his life in every way and is among his greatest qualities.”
In 1989, Listi answered the call from St. Thomas Principal Fr. Albert Gaelens, CSB to return to campus. Listi accepted a faculty position to teach mechanical drawing and soon his fingerprints could be identified across the broad width of campus and student life.
Curriculum. Student yearbook. Golf coach. Round-Up executive. Public and media relations. Alumni exchange. Listi pumped the pulse of the Eagle community. Most importantly, he provided St. Thomas scholars with a rich intellectual experience while preparing them to be attentive citizens. A true believer in the spirit of “pay it forward” had discovered a burning intent.
“My father benefitted from role models and was determined to pass that same spirit along. That gave him purpose,” says Tony. “His student experience at St. Thomas fueled him throughout his life. He understood what a privilege it was to attend the school and was his foundation for adult success. It was then important to him that I and my brother (Daniel ‘98) and stepbrother (Carlo Dechiro ‘92) attend St. Thomas, and that my sister Shelly attend St. Pius X. He made great sacrifices to make that happen.”
Regardless of his defined role, Listi accelerated solutions to address the obstacles of a given day. He harnessed that strength for a time as a faculty member at St. Pius X.
Shelly vividly remembers her initial days of high school, a nervous freshman overwhelmingly welcomed by juniors and seniors as “Little Listi because of what my father meant to them. He was loved by those students and that tells you the impressions he made in a short period of time. He was available, approachable, and willing to be an advisor through tough times. He was always supportive in a positive way.”
From designing the blueprint for Granger Stadium to navigating trips to the famed St. Andrews Links in Scotland to establishing meaningful interactions with students that lasted deep into their adult lives, Listi operated in concert with goodness, discipline, and knowledge. His core values defined his measure of success, not what one would unearth today on TikTok, Twitter, or Instagram.
Rarely would Listi command the largest stage or expect the brightest spotlight. His modus operandi was navigating slightly under the radar unnoticed except to the keenest observer or during the most poignant need. When Chadwick Roberts ‘94 tragically died in 1996, it was Listi who was instrumental with Tim McConn ’94 in establishing an annual heart and spirit award for Eagle Basketball in Roberts’ name so that he would be appropriately remembered.
In those rare instances of discretionary time, Listi was involved with the Texas Catholic Herald and contributed to the Texas Italian-American Sports Foundation. The organization founded by Hall of Honor inductee Frankie B. Mandola `65 and Dan Sessions `65 distributed more than $700,000 to assist student-athletes in continuing their competitive careers after high school.
In later life, Listi relocated to South Padre Island where he served as a city council member. He offered pro-bono services including the layout of the new city park, as well as the future community center and library. Mayor Patrick McNulty says “Sam has proven to have the initiative and intellectual creativity to succeed in any arena. He advanced many architectural projects and developments on the Island. He has demonstrated to be a confident, diligent, and capable leader with a deep commitment to helping others.”
Chamber of Commerce President Alita Bagley says Listi “worked relentlessly developing zoning changes and residential neighborhood improvements. Sam’s architectural expertise was invaluable to the city.”
Sam Listi returns to his Eagle Family as an inspiration – a genuine model who thinks boldly, lives passionately, and dreams without limits.
“He believes the Hall of Honor is one of the greatest accomplishments in his life,” Tony says. “He was in tears when he received the confirmation. This distinction certainly confirms all that he’s contributed to the school. He’s come a long way, nurturing four successful children who are products of Catholic education. He’s the patriarch of our family.”
Catholic. Basilian. Teaching Goodness, Discipline and Knowledge since 1900.