Thomas Oliver Duff, Jr. ’35

Thomas Oliver Duff, Jr. ’35, the courtly and gracious business leader and civic giant, died Monday, Oct. 14, 2013, at his home on Lookout Mountain. He was 100. His family’s connection with the wholesale pharmaceutical industry spanned more than a century, beginning in the early 20th century with his father’s regional company and ending in the early 21st century as a part of the largest pharmaceutical wholesaler in the world.

At 22, Mr. Duff went to work for McKesson Drug Co. in Huntington, W.Va. World War II interrupted his career, but he returned to Chattanooga to form Duff Brothers Inc. with his brother, the late Frank F. Duff in 1947. With his father in an advisory role, Duff Brothers quickly became the dominant wholesaler in the region and continued that role after its sale in 1978. Among Mr. Duff’s strengths were the abilities to stay close to his customers and to foster a respect among his employees for the central values of Duff Brothers. He was affectionately known at the company as “Mr. Tom.”

In his philanthropic and civic life, Mr. Duff left his mark on myriad organizations, including the Baylor School, the Universities of Tennessee in Knoxville and Chattanooga, the United Way, the Chamber of Commerce, the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the Rotary Club of Chattanooga, Memorial Hospital, and numerous business-related organizations. He was the president of the Chamber, the Rotary, the United Way, the Red Cross and the Salvation Army fund drives. He was a member of the University of Chattanooga Foundation and the University of Tennessee Development Council. A much cherished honor, the Dorothy Patten “Love of Chattanooga” Award was presented to him in 1991 for his outstanding service to the community. On a national level, he was recognized by the National Wholesale Druggists Association, in its most prestigious award, for his “outstanding sportsmanship in both his business and personal life.” He also was a board member of the NWDA, the International Multiple Sclerosis organization and the Gulf Life Insurance Co. He was president of the Mountain City and Fairyland clubs and was King of the Cotton Ball in 1971.

One of his most satisfying relationships was with the American National Bank and Trust Co. In 1961, he succeeded his father on the board, and remained a member of the SunTrust Bank board until he assumed an advisory role in 1981. No one has ever served longer on that board than Mr. Duff. As the oldest alumnus of Baylor, Mr. Duff was able, with his brother and other family members, to establish in his lifetime the Duff Family Scholarship. It named the first Duff Family Scholar this year. On the occasion of his 100th birthday in August, the Lookout Mountain, Tenn. and the Lookout Mountain, Ga., commissions issued a joint proclamation, praising Mr. Duff for his “posture of service in deference to others.”

Born in the Chattanooga in 1913, he was a graduate of Baylor and Davidson College. He received a commission during World War II in the United States Naval Reserve, serving in New London, Connecticut, and Guam. He was a member of Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church, where he served as president of the Board of Deacons. In addition to his father and brother, he was preceded in death by his mother, Elizabeth Ferrel Duff; his wife, Jane Kitchen Duff; and his son-in-law, David S. Latimore Jr.He is survived by his son and his wife, Thomas Oliver “Todd” and Martha Duff, Signal Mountain; his daughter, Catherine Duff Latimore, Newnan, Ga.; his grandchildren, Cakki L. and Jim Namorato, Richmond, Va.; Mary Duff L. and Mike Rayneri, Greenville, S.C.; Thomas Oliver “Tommy” and Abby Duff, Signal Mountain; great-grandchildren, David and Thomas Namorato; Emily Jane and Lillian Allen Rayneri, and Alexandra Duff. Also surviving are his brother, William E. Duff, Oakbrook, Ill.; and nephews, Frank F. Duff Jr., Chattanooga; C. Avery Duff, Marina del Ray, Calif.; Mark Duff, Aspen, Colo.; nieces, Elizabeth Duff Woods, Rye, N.Y., and Hillary Duff, Oakbrook, Ill.

The memorial service will be at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 17, at Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church with the Rev. Joe Novenson officiating. The family will receive friends in the church’s Fellowship Hall from 11:30 a.m. until time of service at 1 p.m. Memorial contributions may be made to Baylor School, Duff Family Scholarship, 171 Baylor School Road, 37402, or the Jane and Thomas Oliver Duff scholarship at the University of Chattanooga,UC Foundation, 615 McCallie Ave., 37403, or the charity of your choice.

Please share your thoughts and memories at are by Wann Funeral Home & Cremation Center, located at the foot of historic Lookout Mountain, St. Elmo. 821-7551.

Arthur Wellwood “Bob” Burns, Jr. ’35

On Dec. 3, 2012, Arthur Wellwood “Bob” Burns, Jr. ’35, 99, of Lee’s Summit, Mo., passed from this world to the next. He was born March 18, 1913, to Arthur Wellwood and Effie Burns in Chicago. He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife of 50 years Margaret Cartland, and brothers John and Andy.

He is survived by his sister, Margaret; son, Robert Burns, PO Box 1387, Blue Springs, MO 64013; his significant other, Linda; daughter, Margaret; granddaughter, Allyson (Kevin); grandson, Cartland (Jill); great-grandchildren, Leah, Sara, Ana, Niall, Tessa, Tara (Blaine), and Kayla; and nieces, Beth, Susie, and Peggy Ellen.

Burns attended Davidson and enjoyed a career in sales with the Bureau of National Affairs until his retirement. He enjoyed golf, big bands, dancing, and travel, as well as being a 32nd degree York Rite and Scottish Rite Mason and an active member of the Shriners.

Robert Belk Neill ’35

Robert Belk Neill ’35, 96, of Monroe, N.C., passed away Jan. 23, 2012, at his home. Neill was born March 30, 1915, in Selma, N.C., a son to the late Rev. William Brown and Bessie Belk Neill. He was preceded in death by his wife, Cornelia “Kitty” Dillon Neill, and two brothers, Charles G. Neill and William Brown Neill, Jr.

Serving his country in the U.S. Navy during WWII as an aviation radio technician first class, he was honorably discharged in October 1945. Neill retired as a financial planner and tax preparer from his home business, known as Tax Call. He formerly was a business partner with Griffin Chevrolet Company, Monroe, from 1960-82, and prior to that was associated with Griffin Motor Company from 1948-60. Neill served on the Monroe City Council for 12 years and the Union County Board of Elections for six years, serving as chairman during a portion of that time.

As a member of First Presbyterian Church, Neill served on the Session. He also served as church treasurer, chairman of the finance committee, chairman of the personnel committee, and was a member of the men’s Bible class.

Survivors include three children, Catherine Neill Holloway, 1429 Scoonie Pointe Dr., Chesapeake, VA 23322-7438; Robert Belk Neill, Jr.; and Martha Neill Gaddy (John); six grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren. Neill is also survived by his special friend, Doris English.

Charles Monroe Yager ’35

Charles Monroe Yager ’35, of Sun City Center, Fla., passed away Dec. 3, 2010. He was born in McCrory, Ark., on April 4, 1914, grew up in Baltimore, Md., and went to Florida from Dahlonega, Ga., where he had a distinguished career at North Georgia College (now North Georgia College and State University).

He is survived by his wife, Frances King Yager, 912 American Eagle Blvd., Apt. 101, Sun City Center, FL 33573, with whom he enjoyed 69 years of marriage; two daughters, Margaret Dufeny (Max) and Virginia Baxley (Robert); four grandchildren, Mark Dufeny, Charles Dufeny, Julia Camp (John), and Frances Atighi (Maz); and three great-grandchildren, Anabel Camp, Ben Camp, and Owen Dufeny.

He received degrees from the University of Maryland and Duke University. In 1935, in Jonesboro, Ga., Yager began his lifelong career in education, teaching mathematics and serving as superintendent at Jonesboro Consolidated Schools. In 1940 he went to North Georgia College and subsequently became professor of physics, chairman of the physics department, director of admissions and registrar, and director of development. He was especially proud of the nursing program begun during his tenure of director of development.

Yager was active in the community. He was a member of the Dahlonega United Methodist Church, where he taught Sunday school for many years and served as chairman of the board of stewards during the construction of a Christian education building. He served on the city council for one term and was a member of the zoning commission for many years. He was instrumental in securing funding for the construction of a public welcome center in Dahlonega.

Yager worked tirelessly to bring a regional hospital to Dahlonega and was a charter member of the Lumpkin County Hospital Authority. He was the first secretary-treasurer of the hospital commission and served two terms as chairman. In 1981 Yager was awarded the Governor’s Volunteer Award from the State of Georgia for his community involvement. In 1984 he received a Distinguished Service Award from the Georgia Hospital Association because of “his vision and perseverance in the enhancement of health care in northeast Georgia.”

In 1994, he and Frances moved to Sun City Center, Fla., where he became a member of the Sun City United Methodist Church. As a resident of the Freedom Plaza Community, Yager focused his energy on the scholarship committee, which provides scholarships for employees to further their education.

Luther Fritz Byerly ’35

Luther Fritz Byerly ’35, 98, of Banner Elk, N.C., died Nov. 29, 2009, at Blowing Rock Hospital. He was born Nov. 17, 1911, in Guilford County, N.C., a son of the late Everett Grant and Alice Grimes Byerly.

Byerly was a retired employee of T.M. Leasing Company, and served in the U.S. Army during WWII. He was a graduate of Davidson and a member of Holy Cross Episcopal Church.

Byerly is survived by two sons, Larry Byerly (Robin), P.O. Box 429, Boone, NC 28607, and Stephen A. Byerly (Karen); two granddaughters, Erin B. Henkels (Tim) and Meredith B. Stafford (Monty); two grandsons, Lawrence F. Byerly, Jr. (Marielle) and Alan L. Byerly; three great-granddaughters, Anna Stafford, Sadie Stafford, and Isabelle Byerly; and one sister, Ruth B. Henderson. He is also survived by two step-grandchildren, five step-great-grandchildren, one niece, and two nephews. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his wife, Nina Penton Byerly; one sister, Pauline Rawls; and one brother, E. Grant Byerly.