Thomas Edward Hissam ’84

Husband, Father, Son, Friend, Sailor, & Adventurer After a long battle fighting cancer, Thomas Edward Hissam of Dallas, Texas and Wilmington, N.C. passed away on October 22nd at the age of 57. His strong will carried him through his last months, just as it carried him around the world throughout his lifetime.

Thomas was born on November 17th, 1961 in Cleveland, Ohio and grew up in Chagrin Falls, OH. He was the captain of his football team and a star wrestler at Kenston High School. He earned his Eagle Scout at the age of 16. Tom attended Davidson College where he was president of his fraternity and graduated with a BA in psychology.

At Davidson, he also played football and wrestled. Tom went on to attend the University of South Carolina earning a Master’s in International Business at the esteemed Darla Moore School of Business. Thomas spent a large majority of his adult life in Wilmington, NC however that never stopped him from traveling to multiple continents.

Fluent in five languages, he lived and worked in Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam, Moscow, Provence, and Oslo. Tom was an accomplished offshore sailor, racer, and licensed captain who enjoyed spending time on the sea alongside his wife and fellow sailors. For anyone who knew him, he was happiest on the water – whether racing or cruising.

During his life, Tom sailed on the coasts of more than fifteen countries. One of his last adventures took him halfway across the Atlantic from South Africa to St. Helena (this, during a brief pause from chemotherapy.) Tom loved gardening and tended to use manual tools rather than power ones to create the beautiful spaces at his homes. Tom appreciated living life with others, hosting many dinners and parties with his wife, eating good food, and drinking even better wine. But no matter how busy he was, he put his family, who he loved deeply, first.

Tom was the owner of several Sam’s Hot Dog Stands in Wilmington, NC, and Salem, VA. He started his business with no prior experience yet no concerns! He was involved in running his business up until just a few days before he passed, still exhibiting the fighter he was throughout his illness.

Tom is survived by his wife Mary Piepenbrink of Dallas, TX and Wilmington, NC; his daughters Belle of Boone, NC and Rhett of Raleigh NC; his parents Margaret and Harold Hissam of Solon, OH; his stepsons Chanse Harrison of Asheville, NC and Clark Harrison, of Wilmington, NC; his sister Jennifer Jones and his brother-in-law David Jones of Bainbridge OH; his brother Tim Hissam and his sister-in-law Lucille Hissam of Pflugerville, Texas.

Tom had two nieces and a nephew: Lauren Jones King, Lydia Jones, and Phillip Hissam, and scores of loving cousins, aunts and uncles. And finally, he leaves behind his beloved dog Henry, who was his constant companion and best buddy.

One of Tom’s final feats was to swim in the Dallas Swim Across America event on September 14, 2019, raising awareness and funding for the fight against cancer.

Team Thomas Hissam is still accepting donations for next year’s event, in honor of Tom’s amazing life and amazing fight.

A celebration of Tom’s life will be held on November 16th with family and friends in Wilmington, NC, and he will be buried at sea.

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