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Thomas Coleman

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Thomas Coleman Obituary
Tom Coleman - SAVANNAH - Tom Coleman, 85, of Savannah, Ga, passed away June 4, 2014 after a long illness. Visitation will be held at the Church of the Most Blessed Sacrament on June 6, 2014 from 5:30 - 8:00 PM, with a rosary service at 7:30 PM. Funeral services will be held at the Church of the Most Blessed Sacrament on June 7, 2014 at 11:00 AM. J. Tom Coleman was the epitome of a public servant, a successful businessman and a loving husband, father and grandfather. He will long be remembered for his devotion to the Savannah community and his desire to make a lasting difference. A native of Savannah, Georgia, Mr. Coleman was a graduate of Benedictine Military School and Georgia Tech where his leadership skills earned him the position of captain on their football team. After graduation from Georgia Tech, he entered the field of education as a physics teacher and football coach. Answering the call to duty, he joined the U.S. Army serving as an infantry captain during the Korean conflict and, in later years, the U.S. Army Reserves. Tom believed that success came from hard work - there were no shortcuts. He started a successful construction company, Bonitz of Georgia, where he served as Chairman of the board for sixty years. He began his service to the Savannah community as a member of the City Council under Malcolm Maclean. He went on to serve as the Chairman of the Chatham County Commission. A desire to make an even greater difference in his community, led to his election to the First District State Senate seat. In the Senate, he served as Chairman of the Transportation Committee, as a member of the Appropriations Committee for twelve years, and a member of the Continuation Committee for ten years. He served as State Senator for fourteen years, retiring in 1995. Recognized for his leadership abilities, Mr. Coleman was appointed by then Governor Zell Miller to an at-large seat on the University System of the Georgia Board of Regents. In this post he served as Vice Chair and later Chair of the Facilities and Real Estate Committee. At the request of Governor Roy Barnes, Mr. Coleman left the Board of Regents to serve as State Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Transportation. He is a past member of the Board of Trustees of the Georgia Tech Athletic Association, the Georgia Tech Athletic Hall of Fame, Savannah Area Hall of Fame, Past President of the Rotary Club of Savannah, Past Chairman of the Board of Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce and vice chair of the Union Mission. Tom was preceded in death by his loving wife, Mary McGrath Coleman and sister, Marie Coleman Harper. He is survived by three daughters; Celeste Coleman Shearouse (Joe), Lynn Coleman Brown (Bill), Suzanne Coleman Cone (John), three sons; J. Thomas Coleman, III, James Patrick Coleman, Sr. and John Michael Coleman (Avis); one brother, Richard Mell Coleman of Savannah; fifteen grandchildren: James P. Coleman, Jr., Mary Katherine Shearouse, Caroline Coleman, Joseph C. Shearouse (Haley), Elizabeth Shearouse, Stephanie Shearouse, Jack Coleman, Addie Coleman, Emma Brown, Aidan Coleman, Brendan Coleman, Grace Coleman, Turner Cone, Liam Cone and Stephen Coleman, many loving nieces and nephews and sister-in-law, Frances McGrath Frataccia (Rick). Tom was the recipient of numerous awards including the 2006 NAACP Freedom Award. He was Communicant of Blessed Sacrament Church, a member of Knights of Columbus, Council #5588, and a Life Member of VFW Post 66. Tom smiled on Savannah throughout his long life of service with nobility and humility. He impact will be felt for generations to come. Memorial donations may be made to the Blessed Sacrament Parish and School Building Fund. The family wishes to extend their love and gratitude to his many caregivers for their support throughout Tom's long illness: Retha Dillard, Beverly Thompson, Yalanda Cooper, Linda Ooms, Vickie Scott, Gwen Jefferson, Carolyn Brown. Please sign our on-line guest book at www.foxandweeks.com Savannah Morning News June 6, 2014 Please sign our Obituary Guest Book at savannahnow.com/obituaries.
Published in Savannah Morning News from June 5 to June 6, 2014
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