Thomas Frederick Stimson ’43

Thomas Frederick Stimson died peacefully on October 24, 2013 after an unexpected fall. He was surrounded by his loving family, “the most important people in my life” as he once said.

Tom was the first son of Robert Moreton Stimson of Cape Charles, Va., and Helen Wilson Easley of South Boston, Va. He was born July 1, 1921 in Atlanta, where his father was a young minister at the Gordon Street Presbyterian Church. In 1924, the family moved to Columbus, Ga., following his father’s call to ministry at the First Presbyterian Church. In 1927, Tom found himself settled in Chattanooga when his father accepted the call to the Second Presbyterian Church. The family had discovered a place that would become home for the next four generations of the Stimsons and extended families.

He is survived by his loving wife, Rebecca Jane Train Stimson, 440 Alexian Way, Apt 47, Signal Mountain, TN 37377; and his adoring children, Susan (Dan), Bobby, Tommy (Paula) and Becca (Tom) and grandchildren: Tripp Stimson, Sarah Murphy, Hunter Peak, Jennifer Stimson, Rachel Stimson, Bryant Jenkins, Rebecca Jenkins, Megan Babb, Lee Minor, Maggie Minor, Tom Jenkins, Bree White, and Ryan Debacker. He was preceded in death by granddaughters Rebecca Stimson, Amanda Isom, Lauren Jenkins.

Tom is also survived by his siblings, Harriet Nottingham Stimson Davis (Austell, Ga.) and Bailey Easley Stimson (Jane) (Cocoa, Fl.), and an abundance of nieces and nephews. He is predeceased by his brother, Jamie Douglas Stimson, sister-in-law, Nellie Gray Sides Stimson (Statesville, N.C.) as well as his brother-in-law, Edward Davis.

The McCallie School motto of “Honor, Truth, Duty” embodies values that guided Tom throughout his life. He will be remembered for his faithfulness, his sense of commitment and his response to duty. He will also be remembered for his dry wit, his craftsmanship as Santa’s toymaker in his basement shop and as the fabled auction coordinator for Kiwanis Club Christmas Fund Raisers.

He will, however, be best remembered for his deep Presbyterian roots….father, brother and brother-in-law, all Presbyterian ministers, Tom’s life was shaped by the heritage of the Reformed tradition. Reared in a home of faith and service, Tom embraced these principles early and continued a lifelong commitment to these ideals. At Second Presbyterian Church, he served as an elder and as superintendent of the Sunday School. As part of the pioneer effort at Rivermont Presbyterian Church in the early 1960’s, Tom proved to be an invaluable leader. He understood and revered the work of the church. He was a resource in a partnership of young and talented men and women who knew the mission and enjoyed the journey to establishing a vibrant, thoughtful and faithful congregation in a new setting. At Rivermont, Tom served as elder, as clerk of the session and was named elder emeritus. He twice chaired the Pastor Search Committee. In the 1980’s, he served as moderator of the presbytery, as Chair of the Synod of Living Waters and was an active member of the General Assembly Evangelism Committee. As a member of the Council of the Synod of the Mid-South, he chaired the Boundaries Committee and served as chairman of the John Calvin Home for the Elderly.

Tom believed in community service. He served as chairman of the North River YMCA, championed its fund raising efforts for the original construction project and served on the subsequent building committee. He served on the United Way and was vice president of Community Services of Greater Chattanooga. He served as treasurer of the Library Board and consecutive terms as president of the Traveler’s Aid Board. He served as chairman of the Board of Family & Children’s Services until the 1990’s.

Tom believed in education. Privileged to be a 1939 McCallie School graduate and a third generation graduate of Davidson College (1943), Tom wanted all his children to have similar opportunities. It was equally important for his daughters as well as his sons to be well educated. As the GPS headmistress reminded Becky, “It is the mother who educates the children, after all.” It was not without significant personal sacrifice that Tom made excellence in education a reality for his children.

About age 14, his professional career in the insurance industry began at Provident Life Insurance Company as the Saturday morning mail boy. Luckily, he liked riding the elevators in that tall building. After the war and now a family man, with a completed internship, he was quickly hired with a promotion beyond the mailroom. Although diligent and content in his position at Provident, Tom was successfully recruited to Volunteer Life Insurance Company in the early 1960’s. He had enjoyed decades of professional associations throughout his career at Volunteer before he finally retired as Senior Vice President and Secretary on his birthday in 1984. During his insurance industry tenure he received recognition as a Fellow in LOMA, the highest award of the Life Office Management Association.  He also served as Chapter President of NOMA, the National Office Management Association.

A veteran of World War II, he was truly a member of the ‘Greatest Generation’. Graduating from OCS, he was commissioned in 1944. He survived the Battle of the Bulge and the coldest winter in the Ardennes. As part of the PBS series for the Greatest Generation, he provided his recollections of wartime in Germany, Belgium and France for a regional video production. He had been awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star for meritorious service.

Returning from wartime Europe, he discovered that his buddy’s little sister was no longer just a little sister. Romance blossomed and on September 26, 1947, Tom married Becky. The Train family were longtime members of Second Presbyterian Church so the union of this young couple was indeed a family affair. Tom’s father had died but his mother survived to welcome grandchildren and was always Becky’s beloved mother-in-law. Children arrived soon and quickly: Susan Bryant in 1950; Robert Moreton in 1951; Thomas Leroy in 1953 and Rebecca Easley in 1955.

Shortly after Susan was born, Tom was recalled to duty for the Korean Conflict. When he returned home, there was a son as well as a daughter to greet him. And soon, the daughter and son had two additional playmates.

Orderly by nature, Tom had the ability to organize and prioritize. Whether it was for life’s work or God’s work, somehow he managed to see clearly. Even in his lingering hours, he was trying to put sense to the recent events with questions and then thoughtful pauses as he prepared for his final joyful journey.

The immediate family gathered for a private service on Sunday, Oct. 27. A service in Celebration of the Life of Thomas Frederick Stimson will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 8, at Rivermont Presbyterian Church. The Reverend Clay Thomas will officiate.  

Visitation from 2-3 p.m. will precede the service. A reception will follow the service in the church atrium. 

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Rivermont Presbyterian Church, Girls’ Preparatory School, The McCallie School and Davidson College.

Arrangements are by Wann Funeral Home & Cremation Center, at the foot of historic Lookout Mountain, St. Elmo, 821-7551.

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