John Sampas, executor of the Jack Kerouac Estate, has passed away peacefully at home in Greenwich, Connecticut. A memorial will be held in the near future.
Sampas was a controversial figure for Beat enthusiasts. From 1990 he was literary executor of Kerouac’s estate, but during that entire time there was a bitter debate raging over the validity of his position. In 2009, the will that left Kerouac’s writings to the Sampas family was deemed a fake – something critics had said for years.
Kerouac fans have been enraged, too, by various items being sold by the Sampas family, although the family claims this was to pay for attorneys and ensure the material is preserved. Throughout their stewardship of the Kerouac Estate, the Sampas family have helped previously unpublished works reach the public, and ensured that Kerouac’s notebooks and letters have been available to scholars.
Regardless of your position on this contentious issue, it is undeniable that John Sampas has played a significant role in maintaining Kerouac’s reputation during these past few decades.