There are some people who are integral to the lifeblood of a city. To what the heart is to the body, Tom Hall was to the City of LaGrange. For 22 years, Tom served this city in one of the most profound and useful ways, giving his everything to a city that desperately needed his leadership and guidance in order to form us into the growing and vibrant city we are today.
His loss is severe, a punch to the gut and a loss that will not be replaced.Tom’s legacy will live on through the family he leaves behind and the projects that he helped to enact in order to protect and grow this city.
Tom started his career in public service in LaGrange in 1985 as the assistant to the city manager of LaGrange. In 1988, he was promoted to Assistant City Manager. In this time period he also taught as an adjunct professor at LaGrange College and active Fire Chief in 1990. In 1991 he left to become the City Manager in Morrow Georgia from 1991 to 1994.
Hall then returned to LaGrange in 1994 and has been the City Manager of LaGrange ever since then. He has several affiliations including LaGrange Industrial Development Authority, the International City Managers Association, The Georgia City-County Managers Association, The Georgia Municipal Association Municipal Operations Committee, The National League of Cities Energy Environmental and Natural Recourses Committee, and a member of D.A.S.H La-Grange Board of Directors.
Tom has been the forever dedicated public servant and also leaves behind many friendships that are devastated to hear of his passing. Mr. Bobby Traylor, a former city council member and long time friend of Hall was devastated by the news.
“When Tom came here, his wife was pregnant and so to me, they were family. I saw the birth of his kids and he was a personal friend and a brother. The dedicated people here will take the city forward but will carry it like Tom Hall did. Without his expertise to cut and grow, we would have never had a city without property taxes for 20 years, which saved homes thousands of dollars. He will be missed.”
Page Estes, the President of the LaGrange Chamber of Commerce, recalled one of her favorite moments with Tom. “On a personal note, I got to know Tom before I actually met him in person. Many years ago I had a great professor at Auburn that was also Auburn City Manager. Our class was held in their city hall. When I told him I was from LaGrange, he said you have one of the best city managers in the country at the helm. The professor used City of LaGrange examples—Tom Hall examples—throughout the semester to illustrate great leadership. After I came to the Chamber, I told Tom about it. In his typical fashion, he chuckled and questioned, “Did he really say that”?
Tod Tentler, the current county manager, also worked very closely with Mr. Hall and knows of the impact that his loss will have on the community. “This is a great loss as a friend and as a leader. As City Manager Tom had his hands in many projects that were all very beneficial to the city at large.
Meg Kelsey has served as the Deputy City Manager for some time now and has been appointed as the Interim City Manager in Tom’s place while another candidate is sought out for the position on a more permanent basis. Meg remembers Tom fondly.
“Tom Hall was not only my mentor, but a friend. While reporting directly to him for 18 years, I always referred to him as “Boss.” I’d also toss in a ‘yes sir’ or ‘no sir’ and he’d complain it made him feel old. ‘Just call me ‘Tom,’” he’d say. Tom was one of the GREAT thinkers you rarely meet in life. He had a great business mind, and had a special gift for putting together incredible deals for this community and its citizens. I am fortunate he saw something in me and chose to be my mentor in local government. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it were not for his guidance, council and friendship.”
Mayor Jim Thornton also commented on the passing of Tom Hall in a press release Wednesday morning where he stated that “Anyone who had the chance to work with Tom knew how very good he was at his job and how incredibly passionate he was about the city. His reputation as one of the best in the business was well known throughout Georgia and beyond.”
Former Mayor Jeff Lukken stated, “Tom Hall was an inspiring leader who helped guide the city to extraordinary heights of growth, job creation and financial stability. Tom had brilliant financial and management skills and was admired and loved for his integrity, vision and quick wit. Most important, Tom was a wonderful husband, an incredible father and a loyal friend.”
There are times where the news drags us down. There are global, domestic, and local stories everyday that are designed to de-humanize us and relay all of the negative and harsh things going on in our world. That is why so many hate the news and the impacts it can have.
However, at moments such as this, with the pain of a dear friends passing, it is important to remember just how human we all truly are. Tom Hall was a great man. He was a man that had a wife, Gina, and two children, Dylan-age 11 and Cassidy-age 6, whom he cared for and loved deeply. He was loved by all of those lucky enough to work by his side. He was an unbelievably dedicated civil worker who has made tremendous strides to better this city for over 20 years.
At times like this, it is important for his friends and his family to remember Tom as not a government personality who enacted several policies. No, it is important to remember him for the amazing human being that he was, all of the wit and charm he always displayed, and how vigorously he loved his job, his friends, and his family. Tom Hall will truly be missed by all of those that he left behind.
Jeremy Andrews Staff Writer