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Thomas (Tommy) J. Pirkle, age 89, passed away on April 18, 2019, at his home.
Tommy was born on September 8, 1929, in Birmingham, Alabama. Tommy graduated from Coffee High School, Florence State University (now UNA) with a degree in management, and from the University of Tennessee with a graduate degree in social work. He served in the Korean War as a member of the United States Navy aboard the USS Valley Forge.
Tommy was the director of the Riverbend Center for Mental Health for 34 years. He was a founding member of Woodmont Baptist Church, where he was a deacon and a Sunday School teacher for over 50 years. Tommy oversaw the establishment of the Riverbend Foundation through which he helped establish the Allasso Program that provided college scholarships to individuals diagnosed with mental illness and addiction disorders. This program was extended through Woodmont Baptist Church Social Services Ministry, which helps those in our community in need. He established “Day by Day”, a grief support group for bereaved parents, served as an adjunct faculty member at University of North Alabama in psychology and sociology, served as President of the UNA Alumni Association, Alumni of the Year in 2002, Chairman of the Advisory Committee of the President’s Cabinet at UNA, President of the Alabama Council of Community Mental Health Center Directors, and as Chairman of the Florence-Lauderdale Public Library Board of Directors. He also served his community on the Florence City Council, as President of the Shoals Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Rotary Club, on the Board of Advisors for WICP – Westminster Interfaith Caring Place, and was a charter member of HASRA – Hearts of Alabama Save Rescue Adopt.
The common thread throughout Tommy’s life was his unselfish devotion to helping others. From his profession, helping those suffering from mental health or substance abuse issues and bereaved parents, to his hobbies and volunteer work - helping abandoned animals.
A private burial will be held at Greenview Memorial Park, with Greenview Funeral Home directing. A celebration of life will be held at 11:00 am on Tuesday, April 23, 2019, at Woodmont Baptist Church with the Reverend Chad Hess officiating. The family will receive friends and visitors immediately following the service. Grandsons will serve as pallbearers.
Tommy was preceded in death by his parents, Willis Andrew and Claudia Pirkle; his sister, Antoinette Huddleston; his brother, Guerry Pirkle; his father-and mother-in-law, Aldrich and Maggie Frederick; and his grandson-in-law, Jordon Cassady.
He is survived by his wife of sixty-six years, Carolyn Peggy Pirkle; his children, Jania Pirkle Harp (Ted), Debbye Pirkle Hibbett (Chip); Tommy Pirkle (Pam); and his grandchildren, Chris Harp (Lindsey), Lisa Mellon (Steve), Kari-Kay Cassady, Regan Harp, Thomas Hibbett (Caitlin), Reece Hibbett (Carrie), Parks Pirkle, and Tait Pirkle; and his six great-grandchildren – Alys, Amelia, and Ann Eastman Harp; Mackenzie and Olivia Mellon, and Andrew Thomas Cassady.
The family would like to extend heartfelt thanks to the following persons for their devoted and compassionate care: Dr. Ricky Irons, Sally, and Olivia and Dr. Bill Heaton and Will Burhans.
Memorials may be made to the Florence-Lauderdale Animal Shelter, Woodmont Baptist Church – Social Services Ministry, or Riverbend Center for Mental Health.
Arrangements are by Greenview Funeral Home.