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Thomas Nelson Rodgers

Thomas Nelson Rodgers of Cullowhee passed away at the age of 78 on Thursday, November 3, 2022.

Tom was born on April 15th, 1944, in Huntsville Alabama, the son of Thomas and Vivian Rodgers. He graduated from Sidney Lanier High School (Montgomery, Alabama) in 1962, Auburn University in 1966 (Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering), and the University of Florida in 1971 (Master of Science Degree in Electronic Engineering). While at Auburn, Tom became a member of Sigma Chi fraternity.

Upon graduation from Auburn University, he accepted a position at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida with the Airborne Instrumentation Division.  In 1978, he progressed from an entry level engineer to become the Systems Design Branch Chief. He was then selected to be the Assistant Deputy Commander for Technical Support and later assumed the position of Director of the Technical Directorate in 1988, a position he held until he retired.

Tom served as President of the Ft. Walton Beach Chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), the Eglin Chapter of the International Test and Evaluation Association, Shalimar Little League, and the Playground Area Sports Association.  Tom was a youth soccer coach and a referee who also enjoyed coaching T-ball and youth baseball.      

Upon retiring in 2002, after serving 35 years as a civilian employee of the United States Air Force, Tom and Sheila realized their long-time dream of living in the mountains of western North Carolina, a vacation place they enjoyed over many years of hiking and exploring. Since that time, Tom was active in several volunteer organizations including the North Carolina Bartram Trail Society, the Nantahala Hiking Club, the Appalachian Farm and Homestead Preserve, the Smoky Mountain Beekeepers Chapter of the NC Beekeepers Association, Special Olympics, Jackson County Planning Board, and various activities of the NC Extension Service. He was also a member of the Industrial Advisory Council of the Electronic Engineering Department at Western Carolina University. On Wednesdays, Tom’s favorite day of the week, he joined the “Maintainers” of the Nantahala Hiking Club performing maintenance and construction work on the Appalachian Trail.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Thomas and Vivian Rodgers and sister, Betty Anne Rodgers Penn.

Tom is survived by his wife of 56 years, Sheila Joy, and their three sons: Matt, Ryan (Erin), and Cory. Also surviving are granddaughters Emma and Finley Rodgers, Jordan Rodgers, and Morgan Stanton (William) with great-grandson Sawyer Duncan Stanton. Special nieces, nephews, and cousins survive as well. To his faithful pawed companions, Brodie and Maddie, life will never be the same without him.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the charity of your choice. Appalachian Funeral Services of Sylva, NC served the family. No services are planned at this time.

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He hid his light under a bushel. What an intelligent and accomplished man. The mountains WNC will miss him as well as those of us who were lucky to know him.

Patricia S. Jones Nov 11 2022 9:10 AM

My sincere condolences to Sheila and Tom's whole family.

Sandra Burbank Nov 10 2022 8:45 AM

Words seem inadequate to express the sadness I feel at the loss of Tom. I hope the wonderful memories you have of Tom, as well as the love and friendship you have around you, will support you through this time. I cherish the memories of the times we spent with you and Tom. Love, peace and comfort to you, my friend.

Jackie Kramer Nov 9 2022 8:25 PM

Sheila, I have no words that will make this time any easier. My heart aches for you and the family. I know Tom is out of pain and at peace as hard as it will be for you, but you have so many wonderful memories. Draw your strength from the lord and those memories. Y'all are in my prayers. I love you my friend.

Lisa and Ken Simmons Nov 9 2022 7:33 PM

A candle was lit in memory of Thomas Rodgers

Barbara Goergen Nov 9 2022 7:02 PM

A candle was lit in memory of Thomas Rodgers

Kerri Rayburn Nov 9 2022 6:37 PM

Sheila, I am so sorry to hear this sad news. May your memories and faith bring you comfort.

Marcia Whitney Nov 9 2022 12:32 PM

My heart goes out to Mr. Rodger's family during this time. He was a beloved patient that we had the privilege of caring for for quite some time. He will be greatly missed.

Megan Gilmore Nov 7 2022 12:25 PM