Samuel Mauldin Chambliss, who was a Ridgefield lawyer and owner of an enormous ranch in Zimbabwe, died on May 5, 2014 in Deland, Fla., following a severe stroke. 

Born in Plainfield, N.J., on Dec. 15, 1929, the son of Leopold Alexander Chambliss and Anna Scott Yerkes, he graduated from Wilkes College, now known as Bucknell University, and earned his doctor of law degree at the University of Pennsylvania. He went on to earn his master of law degree in military law from the Judge Advocate General School at the University of Virginia. He then served in Germany as a captain in the JAG Corps of the U.S. Army. He received an honorable discharge from the United States Army Reserve in 1962.

After his military service, he moved his family to Chattanooga, Tenn., where he entered the private practice of law in 1957 at the Chambliss firm, co-founded by the grandfather he was named after. He later moved to Connecticut where he continued his legal practice in Westport before settling in Ridgefield, becoming a specialist in the emerging field of environmental law in which he received the Citizen Environmentalist of the Year Award in 1983.

He worked a lot in Redding, and he wrote the first draft of the state’s Inland Wetlands Act at the request of the Department of Environmental Protection.

He married Janet Bavier Parris in 1979 and the couple visited Zimbabwe in 1983. In 1985 they purchased an 18,500-acre ranch in the middle of the country and moved there permanently in August 1987 when the the government asked them to be custodians of that country’s endangered black rhino.

The Chamblisses and two neighboring landowners enclosed their property with an electric fence, creating a 60,000-acre preserve. Mr. Chambliss became one of only three non non-Zimbabwean “professional hunter and guides” licensed by the National Parks and Recreation Department to lead hunting parties, his family said.

“We’ve got zebra, waterbuck, kudu, impala, reedbuck, elands, and the tssessebe, which is the fastest antelope in the world,” he told The Press in the late 1980s.

In 2003, Mr. Chambliss’s family reports, the government of Zimbabwe expropriated the ranch and he and his wife moved to Gonubie, South Africa, in 2005.

In 2012 Mr. and Mrs. Chambliss moved to Deland, where Mr. Chambliss had been undergoing medical treatment. He died at the age of 84 with his wife and sons by his side.

He is survived by his wife of 35 years and his children: Patricia Chambliss Jacoway and her husband Michael Jacoway of Chattanooga, Tenn.; Samuel Mauldin Chambliss III and his wife Elizabeth Upshaw Chambliss of Atlanta, Ga.; James Alexander Chambliss and his wife Laura McInnes Chambliss of Atlanta, Ga.; his stepson R. Robert Parris of Ridgefield.; and his stepdaughter Linda Parris Farina and her husband Kevin Farina of Palmyra, Va. He is also survived by his grandchildren: Mary Cummings Jacoway; Michael Grayson Jacoway and his wife Ashton; Carter Chambliss Fawcett and her husband Will; Ansley Elizabeth Chambliss; Samuel Mauldin Chambliss IV; Jennie Terrell Chambliss; John Purcell Chambliss; Oris Emily Chambliss and two step-grandchildren, Alexander and Emily Farina.

A military memorial service will take place at a future date. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations to The Wounded Warriors Project or to a local hospice organization.

—by the staff