Sam Torrence was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, on January 11, 1930.
His early years and education were in New Bern, North Carolina, and he later graduated from Wake Forest University with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1952. Following graduation, he entered the United States Army at Fort Rucker, Alabama.
During this period, he met his future wife Jueann Flowers, the daughter of Quinn Flowers, Sr., a partner in Couch Construction Company in Dothan, Alabama.
Upon completion of his Army service, he joined Couch Construction Company as Office Manager in 1954. At the time Couch, then in its 36th year, was a very small paving company with an outstanding reputation.
Couch had vision full of new opportunities—like owning a hot mix asphalt plant and a ready mix concrete plant. Torrence learned fast under the tutelage of Flowers, and before long his Office Manager duties included sales, taking orders for ready-mix concrete, and collections. Being a protégée meant six-day work weeks and instructions such as, “Any bad debts come out of your pocket, not the company’s pocket”.
The new but small asphalt plant arrived in 1955 resulting in additional responsibility for the office manager, but exciting times as well. Resources were tight, but the company did not have to borrow to meet weekly payroll. Over the next few years Torrence was promoted to Assistant Secretary-Treasurer, married the boss’s daughter, and took his first vacation.
In November 1959 Quin Flowers, Sr., and the company’s engineer were killed in a highway accident returning from an Alabama Highway Department letting. Stirton Oman, principal in Oman Construction Company of Nashville, Tennessee, was Flowers partner at the time. Oman appointed Torrence General Manager with instructions to sink or swim.
The tragedy was devastating for Torrence who, like everyone else, questioned his ability to overcome this chain of events. Torrence had learned by now that charting the course ahead was fundamental for success, and that is what happened.
The sixties were the best of times. The company continued to grow and purchased the stock of former owners. The company was successful on large highway contracts in Florida. Torrence was elected President of the Alabama Road Builders Association in 1967.
Over the next 20 years Torrence was elected President of the Alabama Asphalt Pavement Association, the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce, and the National Asphalt Pavement Association.
He was Chairman of the Steering Committee in the formation of the National Construction Industry Council (NCIC) in an effort by architects, engineers, contractors, homebuilders, Associated General Contractors and American Road Builders Association to speak with one voice. He was a founding member of the National Center for Asphalt Technology (NCAT) and, through his influence, introduced the founding members to Auburn University.
Today, NCAT is a $10 million foundation located at Auburn and is the center of worldwide asphalt industry.
The Dothan Rotary Club honored him by designating him a Paul Harris Fellow, the most coveted award in Rotary for outstanding civic service.
Torrence is a past member of Young Presidents Organization, a 49-year member of Kiwanis International, past Chairman of the Administrative Board of the First United Methodist Church of Dothan, and member of the Board of Directors and Lifetime Member of the National Asphalt Pavement Association.
Torrence retired in 1995. Today he is married to Jueann Flowers Torrence and has three daughters and eight grandchildren.
In retirement he is Chairman of IT Support Center, a computer service and support company, and also is a residential land developer.