C. Thomas (Tom) Hendrix, May 10, 1935 – January 1, 2019.
There were three sure-shot ways to tell if Tom Hendrix liked you: he teased you, he played his harmonica for you, or he engaged you in a lively discussion on sports (ahem, Go Vols!, Go Sox!, Go Braves!, but especially, Go Vols!), taxes, food, or candy crush. And if you were truly lucky, it was all of the above!
Tom was born in Johnson City, Tennessee and grew up in Kingsport where he graduated from Dobyns-Bennett High School in 1953 and graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (Go Vols!) in 1957.
During his career at ALCOA, he worked in Management Information Service (MIS), where he managed programmers and help desk personnel for office computer systems. He retired after 28 years in 1992. In the 1970s, he was selected to co-facilitate racial sensitivity training for ALCOA employees nationwide and was a lifelong outspoken proponent of diversity and equality.
He was a born leader and often filled leadership roles in our community. He was President of the Board of Directors of Overlook Mental Health Center from 1982 to 1985. In more recent years, he spent every tax season tirelessly at work with the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide program, a service that offers free income tax preparation for seniors and people with modest incomes. As District 3 Director, he led the program at the Blount County Library, the Sevier County Senior Center and the Cora Veal Senior Center. In 2018 he was awarded the prestigious Tax-Aide Fellow award for distinguished service as a volunteer. He also received the Jan Cooper Certificate of Appreciation for 25 years of outstanding service to this program.
He was a founding member of Rare Aire, the most aptly named harmonica group there’s ever been. This group of (mostly) senior pulmonary patients was banded together at Blount Memorial Medical Fitness in 2014, when assistant Medical Fitness director Kathy Tallent suggested that harmonicas could be used for respiratory therapy and Senior Services coordinator Edward Harper enthusiastically agreed to help lead and teach the group. The group evolved, learned to play a little, and became Rare Aire, a loud and happy group of harmonica blowers who bring a smile to everyone’s face. The group even recently performed at the Tennessee Theater. Tom was so proud of the group and loved showing off his harmonica skills.
Tom struggled daily with COPD and he considered each breath a precious gift. Through it all, he never lost his dry wit and that twinkle in his eye when he was teasing a loved one.
Tom was preceded in death by his mother and father, Thelma Mae Cunningham Hendrix and Samuel Ernest “Chick” Hendrix, sister Janice Hendrix Austin, and son Richard Ernest “Rick” Hendrix. He is survived by so many loved ones, including his wife Valerie, daughters Rebecca and Susan and their mates; six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren; adoring nieces and many, many friends.
A Celebration of his Life is planned for Friday, January 11th from 3 to 6 p.m. in the banquet room of Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria at 128 W. Broadway in Maryville, TN.