Thomas H. Darnell, of Savannah, was born in Giles County, Tennessee on March 7, 1927, the son of the late Frank and Emma Bottom Darnell. On Nov. 8, 1947, he was united in marriage to Kirk Brown in Washington, D.C. They were married for almost 67 years before Kirk preceded him in death in May 2014.
That marriage produced four daughters, Babs (Bill) Hargrave of Smyrna, Georgia, Linda (Ronnie) Gibbs of Savannah, Dolly (Jimmy) Bain of Savannah and Vicki (Dwayne) McWhorter of Mansfield, Louisiana; grandchildren, Jesse McWhorter, Nathan Gibbs, Lori (Kevin) Hindman, Daniel (Sarah) Gibbs, Amie (Scott) Atkins, Kevin McWhorter and Brian Bain; and great-grandchildren, Katherine Atkins, Landry Atkins, Emmarie Atkins, William McWhorter, Anna Atkins, Maggie McWhorter, Thomas Darnell Gibbs and McCay Gibbs.
During their marriage, Tom and Kirk lived together in their home for 65 years, and later lived in an assisted living facility, where Tom made it his goal to remain positive. Tom loved all people, both family and others, and would do anything in his power to help them, which he showed by helping several elderly people when he was younger and by cheering everyone up, no matter where he lived.
At age 14, he moved to Nashville where he worked the midnight shift for Fruit Growers Express at the railroad and played both offense and defense on the football team during high school. In 1944, he won the Nashville Banner Golden Glove’s Boxing title for Novice Division, and in the 1944-45 school year, he was elected class president, Most Handsome, and Most Popular at East High School. During his senior year, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps, which led to him giving up several football scholarships in order to serve immediately after graduation. He graduated in 1945, and would have chosen Clemson to attend had he not gone to serve his country from 1945 to 1947.
In his lifetime, Tom worked at Fruit Growers Express, as a car salesman in Atlanta, Georgia, at Michelin Tire Corporation, where he was the top salesman in the United States from 1965 to 1966, earning him a trip to France and a Caribbean Cruise, and at Grady Yeiser Tire Company until retirement. He was of the Baptist belief and a member of the American Legion. Tom helped establish and head an active neighborhood watch and was a strong advocate for the environment his entire life. Tom understood the importance of preserving, conserving and recycling, and his greatest dream was to keep nature in good shape for future generations. His love of nature and the outdoors was shown in his love for gardening. He had a garden every year and was well ahead of his time on organic garden methods. Tom was also an avid sports fan. He was a fan of all high school and college sports, but loved the UT Vols and Hardin County Tigers the most. Watching his granchildren play basketball, baseball and golf over the years was one of his favorite things to do.
Services were held on Friday, May 11, at 1 p.m., at Shackelford Chapel in Savannah with Sam Morgan officiating. Burial followed in Memory Gardens at Savannah.