After researching yesterday ( including the threads on AVS ) I visited my friends again last night. I've given up trying to avoid using two remotes and they don't want to purchase a Harmony remote (which seems to be the only one-remote solution).
That said, I did a minor tweak to their set-up.
I switched the internal TV speakers back on.....but left the TV connected to the soundbar via an optical digital cable.
Now, if they want to just watch the news on TV for example.....they just turn up the volume of the TV, and watch it normally, while making sure the soundbar is turned off.
When they want to watch a movie or something else using the soundbar, they turn on the soundbar, and turn up the volume on the soundbar.....making sure to turn down the volume on the TV.
This at least gives them a one-remote solution for most 'regular' TV viewing. It also makes it easier for the kids to turn on and watch TV.
I have to say, working for Sony as a rep for 25 years.....I've seen some kooky things where our products didn't properly 'talk' to each other. So, while it's frustrating for sure for Samsung TV and Soundbar owners......I've seen such incompatibility quirks before with a few of the Sony products I used to sell.
You just have to wonder what the designers were smoking? Sometimes, you just have to shake your head.