COLUMBUS, Ga. – Mercer University Life Trustee and former Board of Trustees Chairman Thomas B. (Tom) Black died today at the age of 81. His funeral will be at 11 a.m. Friday at First Baptist Church of Columbus.
A committed and generous supporter of the University since 1980, Black served five consecutive terms as a trustee, including serving as chair of the board in 1991. He was elected a Life Trustee in 2010.
“Earlier today, we lost a cherished colleague,” said Mercer President William D. Underwood. “Tom was a good man, a loyal friend, and a selfless servant. His impact on Mercer will live on to benefit future generations of Mercerians.”
Black was born in Knoxville, Tenn., on Aug. 5, 1932. He earned his B.S. from Baylor University in 1954, and went on to complete the prestigious Stanford Executive Program in 1971.
Black served two years in the U.S. Army, from 1955-1957, before moving to Columbus to work for his father's snack foods business. He would go on to become executive vice president of Tom's Foods, before retiring from the company in 1986. He then served as president of TJD Co., which operated Baskin-Robbins stores in the Columbus area, until 1998. He would spend the next seven years as administrator of the Bradley-Turner Foundation, a private foundation based in Columbus that supports a variety of educational, cultural, health and social service organizations, and has been named among the top 10 private foundations in Georgia. The foundation helped fund several projects at Mercer, including the University Center and the Science and Engineering Building.
Black served on numerous boards, including stints as president of the Potato Chip/Snack Food Association, International; campaign chairman and president of the United Way; chairman of deacons of First Baptist Church of Columbus; vice chairman of the board of trustees of Pastoral Institute; trustee and vice chairman of the Walter Alan Richards Foundation; trustee and board chairman of the Columbus State University Foundation; trustee and board chairman of Brookstone School; and chairman of the board of trustees of the Community Projects Foundation.
He was a consistent donor to the Mercer Fund and a Life Member of the President's Club.
The University awarded Black the Louie D. Newton Award for Service in 1996 and the Meritorious Service Award in 2012.
He and his wife, Doris, were honored with the establishment of the Thomas B. and Doris E. Black Endowed Chair in Pediatrics at Mercer University School of Medicine in 2003.
Black was integral in the expansion of the School of Medicine to Columbus, where up to 80 third- and fourth-year medical students complete their clinical rotations. This expansion and partnership with two area hospitals – The Medical Center and St. Francis Hospital – began in 2012.