Thomas Henry Suddarth, Jr., passed away on Sunday September 26, 2010 at the CLC in the Durham VA Medical Center after a lengthy illness.
Born October 9, 1923 in New Bern, TN, he graduated from Gallatin High School, Gallatin, TN, 1941. A Purple Heart Veteran and Recon Sergeant, he served in General George Patton’s Third Army during WWII where he earned the Bronze Star with clusters, the European African Middle Eastern Ribbon with three Battle Stars, and the Combat Infantry Badge. Following WWII, he attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a football scholarship, where he was a member of the Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice Squad. After earning his undergraduate degree, Tom went on to earn his LL.B./J.D. from the University of North Carolina Law School in 1951. A member of Phi Delta Phi - Int’l Legal Fraternity, he authored an article published in the UNC Law Review in 1951, and served as Law Clerk for Federal Judge John J. Parker in 1951 through 1952. An attorney and member of the N. C. State Bar and the American Bar Association, he earned an A-Rated Listing in Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory. Tom was privileged to represent clients before the U. S. Supreme Court, served as Davidson County Court Solicitor 1958-1962, and as County Attorney 1962-1966.
Tom was elected Chairman of the Davidson County Democratic Executive Committee 1962-1966, and served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1964.
He was a member of A.O.P.A. , and president of Ten G, Inc. He served as a president and a Lt. Governor of the Kiwanis Club. Tom was also member of the Boy Scouts’ Uwharrie Council Executive Board and received the Silver Beaver Award in 1973. He also was a Sunday school teacher and served on the deacon’s board of the First Baptist Church of Lexington, N. C. Most recently he was a member of the Episcopal Church of the Advocate in Chapel Hill.
In 1974 Tom was elected to the North Carolina State Senate representing the Twenty-first Senatorial District of Davidson, Davie, and Rowan counties. While serving as senator, Tom sponsored the North Carolina Statute 20-146, “Slower traffic keep right “ bill.
In 1976 as a member of the North Carolina Professional Liability Insurance Study Commission, he authored the Minority Report which passed the Senate and he single handedly renegotiated the reinstatement of Medical Malpractice Insurance. Following his service as senator, he was appointed to the Criminal Code Commission and helped re-write the Criminal Law of North Carolina from 1976 to1982.
In Lexington, North Carolina, Tom developed commercial real estate including a post office, bank, county library, movie theater and a 60 acre shopping center. In addition to his professional career he personally organized day-old food pick-up in Wilmington grocery stores and bakeries, and delivered to homeless shelters. Most importantly he was a wonderful husband, incredible father and friend....and an unrelenting advocate for those less fortunate.
He is survived by his wife of 37 years, Jeane, children Deborah Kopytowski, Betsy Penland and husband, Bob, Thomas Sterling Suddarth and wife, Suzanne, Thomas Henry Suddarth III and wife, Megan; grandchildren, Danielle Andrews and husband, Chip, Dominique Jeane Kopytowski, David Thomas Penland, Francis Sterling Penland, Caroline Shaw Suddarth; great-grandson, Andrew “Drew” Nazaruk.
He is preceded in death by his parents, Thomas H. Suddarth, Sr and Oneida S. Suddarth, sister, Rebecca Gwynn, brother, Robert Suddarth, first wife, Jane Carrington Suddarth, and grandson, Bobby Penland, Jr.
The family would like to express special thanks to doctors, nurses and staff at the CLC in the VA Medical Center in Durham, NC, and the Cedars of Chapel Hill for their care and compassion.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be sent to the DAV, Durham VA Medical Center, P.O. Box 216, Durham, NC 27702, or the Episcopal Church of the Advocate, P.O. Box 9, Carrboro, NC 27510.
A celebration of life will be held at Church of the Holy Family, 200 Hayes Rd., Chapel Hill at 10 am on Saturday, October 9, 2010. Officiating the service will be Reverend Lisa Fischbeck, Vicar of the Church of the Advocate and Reverend Roxane Gwyn. Receiving of friends will follow at the Cedars of Chapel Hill.