Prominent agribusinessman leaves legacy of generosity

Prominent agribusinessman leaves legacy of generosity

“If more people contributed to our communities like Tom Wade has, this would be a whole lot better place to live.” Those were the words used by Bill Sanderson of Kenton in reflecting on longtime Obion County agribusinessman Thomas Wilton “Tom” Wade Jr., 74, of Union City, who died at 12:15 a.m. today at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union City after battling cancer. Services will be 11 a.m. Friday at Union City First United Methodist Church, where he was a member, with Dr. David Russell officiating, assisted by the Rev. Eddie Mallonee. Burial will follow in Sunnyside Cemetery in Kenton. Friends may call at White-Ranson Funeral Home 4-8 p.m. Thursday. Pallbearers will be Bob Cart-wright, Newell Graham, Bill Simrell, John Miles, David Critchlow Jr., Bart White, Jimmy White, Chris Kirkland and the founding members of First State Bank board of directors: Jim White, Robert Kirkland, George Botts, David Critchlow Sr., Dan Weber, Milton Hamilton Jr. and Andy Newmon. Honorary pallbearers will be managers of Tom Wade companies: Ed Sims, Johnny Martin, Ronnie Workman, Darryl Sims, Dewey Bradley, Chuck Whita-ker, Keith Cardwell and Steve Moore. The family requests memorials be made to Obion County Hometown Walk of Hope or Gideons International, P.O. Box 191, Union City, TN 38281. Sanderson, whose family has been in business in Kenton for 44 years, said Wade’s contributions are countless and the void he leaves behind in Kenton and the surrounding area will be difficult to fill. “When we were trying to open a new school, we didn’t have the money for the property,” he said. “Without being asked, Tom Wade volunteered and bought the property for the new school, which is doing great today. “And he has done innumerable other things for the people of Kenton. He was a fine man and he will be greatly missed.” Wade was born Nov. 23, 1933, in Memphis, son of the late Patti (Walker) and Tom W. Wade Sr., who lived in Kenton. He grew up in Kenton and completed his high school education at McCallie School in Chattanooga, graduating with the Class of 1952. He earned a bachelor of science degree in business administration from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in 1957. Wade was the owner of Tom Wade Companies, headquartered in Kenton, which consists of Wade Gin Co., Wade Land Co., Kenton Grain Co. and Tom Wade Strawberries, all in Kenton; Como Grain and Feed Co.; Farmers Gin of Humboldt and Humboldt Cotton Warehouse; Yorkville Gin Co.; Union City Grain; and Dyer Grain and Farm Supply. He was also a retired director of First State Bank and had been chairman of the board of the bank and its executive committee. His extensive commitments had included membership on the McCallie School Board of Trustees and the McCallie School Board of Visitors; the presidency of the University of Tennessee National Alumni Association (1981-82); the national chairmanship of annual giving for the University of Tennessee (1982-83); membership on the University of Tennessee Athletics Board (1983-85), the University of Tennessee Development Coun-cil (1977-79 and 1983-85 and the University of Tennessee Board of Governors (1977-1987); chairmanship of the University of Tennessee, Martin, Development Committee (1984-85); and the presidency of the Obion County University of Tennessee Alumni Association (1959-60 and 1974-75). He had also been a member of the Governor’s Council on Agriculture and Forestry (1995-96); a director of Cotton Inc. (1975-80); a delegate to the National Cotton Council (1968-79); chairman of the Tennessee Delegation to the National Cotton Council (1977); president of the Tennessee Ginners Association (1976-77), the Obion County Industrial Development Corporation (1991-93) and Poplar Meadows Country Club in Union City (1979-80); charter president of Tennessee Grain and Feed Association (1984-85); and vice president of Obion County Chamber of Commerce (1988-90). He had been a member of Pi Kappa Alpha at the University of Tennessee and most recently was president of Pi Kappa Alpha Education Foundation and chairman of Pi Kappa Alpha Annual Fund. He had also been chairman of the National Gifts Phase of the University of Tennessee 21st Century Campaign (1996-98); a member of the Tennessee Board for Economic Growth (beginning in 1995); a director and president of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association (beginning in 1977) and vice chairman of Gibson County Railroad Authority (beginning in 1985). He had received the Pi Kappa Alpha Loyalty Award in 1994 and, most recently, Pi Kappa Alpha’s highest honor, the Order of West Ridge. He also received the Chancellor’s Citation from the University of Tennessee in 1985; the Distinguished Service Award, Cotton Inc. in 1986; and the Citation for Service, Cotton Inc. in 1980. In 1986, he had been named Obion County Conservation Farmer of the Year. Wade was a member of Union City First United Methodist Church and the Upper Room Sunday School Class. He had also been a member of the congregation’s Finance Committee. He is survived by his wife, Pat (Thurmond) Wade, whom he married March 31, 1962; his son and daughter-in-law, Will and Kim Wade of Union City; two daughters and sons-in-law, Annie Laurie “Lolly” and Donny Bearden of Shreveport, La., and Patti and Rance Barnes of Union City; nine grandchildren, Rance Barnes, Walker Barnes, Thomas Barnes, Wilton Wade, John Wade, Annie Grace Wade and Ben Wade, all of Union City, and Meg Bearden and Ellen Bearden, both of Shreveport; his sister and brother-in-law, Sally and Dr. Pitt Tomlinson III of Chapel Hill, N.C.; his brother-in-law, Bob Thurmond of Dyersburg; and his nephew, Pitt Tomlinson IV of Chapel Hill. He was also preceded in death by his sister, Patti Walker Wade. Published in The Messenger 5.27.08

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