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RANTOUL — Jeffery Allen Sampson of Rantoul died Friday, Jan. 15, 2021.

Jeff was born in Akron, Ohio, on Sept. 5, 1973, to Pam and Keith Sampson. He grew up playing baseball and soccer and developed a deep and genuine love of learning. The Chicago Bears and Cubs became his favorite teams at an early age, when the family moved to Arlington Heights. Following his graduation from Buffalo Grove High School in 1992, Jeff’s love of the Ohio State Buckeyes drew him back to Ohio, where he attended for two years. He completed his English degree at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and went on to get his master’s degree in education at Grand Canyon University. 

Jeff was quiet and contemplative and made friends wherever he was. It was hard to be around him without leaving with a smile. His wit and sincerity could always be felt as you engaged in conversation with him on everything from astronomy and philosophy to history and the Grateful Dead. Music was an integral part of his life, which he expressed through the guitars he built, restored and played.

Jeff worked in various fields before his passion for education led him to teaching eighth-grade English at JW Eater Middle School in Rantoul. Despite the challenge of starting a teaching career during the COVID-19 pandemic, Jeff went above and beyond his duties, and his dedication will be missed by his students and fellow staff. Outside of school, Jeff also spent time investing in the lives of abused and neglected children as a volunteer advocate at Champaign County CASA.

Among everything else in his life, Jeff was first and foremost a dad. Jeff’s one true love was his son, Sawyer. Words cannot convey how important their relationship was and how deeply devoted he was to him. They shared many special memories throughout Sawyer’s life, including annual road trips, cooking with home-gardened ingredients and establishing a mutual admiration for all things Star Wars. 

Jeff will be deeply missed by his son, Sawyer; parents, Pam and Keith Sampson; brothers, Michael (Dana) and Bryan (Jennifer); nieces, Kaitlyn, Natalie, Evelyn and Campbell; nephews, Scott and Jake; and many extended family and friends.

A memorial service will be held in the coming months. We encourage those who would like to send condolences and attend the service, once scheduled, to reach out to the family at Donations can be made to Recovery Dharma via PayPal at or sent to 2000 Northeast 42nd St., PMB 225, Portland, OR 97213-1305.

Please join his family in sharing memories, photos and videos on his tribute wall at The family has entrusted Sunset Funeral Home and Cremation Center, 710 N. Neil St., Champaign, with his arrangements.

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