Dillon, Thomas

DILLON, Thomas

Thomas Jerome Dillon of Saint Johns, Florida, formerly of Atlanta, Georgia, passed on August 25, 2022, at the age of 91. Tom was born on July 17, 1931, the youngest of six children and the only son, to the Reverend Charles Thomas Dillon (Methodist) and Charlotte Carrie Briggs Dillon. His father died when he was only 18 months old. After her husband's untimely death, Charlotte Dillon became one of the first female ordained Methodist ministers in the country, and later served as Dean of Women at Asbury College, Kentucky.

Tom was married to the former Frances Anne Chambers, of Atlanta, for 70 years. Their Union produced four children. Tom was predeceased by his son, Thomas Jerome Dillon, Jr. He was also predeceased by his five sisters, Virginia Miller (New Mexico), Estella O'Donnell (Kentucky), Jeanette Sedlak (Alabama), Marcella Halvorsen (New Jersey), and Charlotte Swanson (Ecuador). In addition to his wife, Frances, Tom is survived by his children; Mary Dillon Bagwell (Bob), Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, Elizabeth "Beth" Dillon Hobbs (Edward), Birmingham, Alabama, and Evan Hall Dillon, MD, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. He is also survived by his grandchildren, Elizabeth Bagwell Blackwell (Jeff), Jacksonville, Florida, Robert Dillon Bagwell (Katie), Folkston, Georgia, Edward Henry Hobbs V and Thomas Dillon Hobbs, both of Birmingham. He is survived by five great-grandchildren. Tom and his wife settled their family in the Atlanta area (Sandy Springs), where Tom spent most of his adult life, later moving to Woodstock, Georgia and then Saint Johns, Florida.

Tom was educated in the Nebraska public school system until he graduated at age 16 from Ponca High School in Ponca, Nebraska, He graduated from Asbury College with a B.A. degree in English, in 1952 and married Frances the same day. Tom graduated from Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky with a Masters of Theology in 1955. Following graduation, he founded and pastored churches in Missouri, Louisiana, and Georgia. Tom graduated from John Marshall Law School in Atlanta in 1964 with the Doctor of Jurisprudence degree and practiced law in the Atlanta area for many years. He was elected for three consecutive terms to the Georgia State House of Representatives, resigning during his third term to accept an appointment as Judge of the Fulton County Juvenile Court, and then served as Presiding Judge of the Atlanta Circuit Juvenile Court for 20 years. During his tenure as Presiding Judge, Tom was responsible for operations of a school, foster care homes, children's trust funds, criminal investigations, detention center (Atlanta youth prison), mental health center, probation services, juvenile law enforcement, and the appointment of associate judges, in addition to the trial functions of the court.

He had a staff of more than 300 professionals. His court and detention center received numerous national awards. He regularly hosted dignitaries from foreign countries, as the court was on the U.S. State Department's itinerary for visiting officials. Upon his retirement, in recognition of his work "to develop innovative methods of administering justice as a means of turning around the lives of young men and women who found themselves facing legal judgement", the Fulton County Board of Commissioners bestowed "its highest commendation" to Judge Tom Dillon, proclaiming January 8, 1992 as "Judge Tom Dillon Day" in Fulton County, Georgia. Among others, one who signed the proclamation was Martin Luther King III.

Tom led an interesting life, leaving no stone unturned along his journey. Tom spent summers with his Uncle Hall Dillon and his wife, Florence on their ranch in Nebraska from the time he was eight years old until he was 16. Tom helped with the cattle, horse breaking, and fencing alongside the ranch hands. Always active in the church, Tom was a deacon and Sunday school teacher. He and Frances embarked on many mission trips to South America, distributing Bibles for the Gideon's International, and helping with food and housing for the people as Tom taught them about Christianity. Later in life, Tom authored a book, The Road to Glory.

Tom and Frances also enjoyed exploring different cultures around the world. Some of the countries they visited were; Italy, Greece, Turkey, Israel, South Africa, Zimbabwe, France, England, Wales, Scotland, Egypt, Ireland, and Germany.

Tom enjoyed being outdoors, especially hunting, fishing, and growing peppers, tomatoes, and okra in his garden. Many happy days were spent with his wife and children riding horses at the family farm in Cleveland, Georgia and relaxing at the family mountain home near Blue Ridge, Georgia. The grandchildren especially remember trips with "Mimi and Grandpapa" to Jekyll Island where Grandpapa would cast his seine net into the ocean and they would pull in many different types of creatures from the sea.

A private service was held at Sandy Springs Chapel for Tom Dillon followed by a burial at Arlington Memorial Park, Atlanta, Georgia. At a later date a memorial service was held at Westminster Woods, Julington Creek, Saint Johns, Florida.

Funeral Home Information

Sandy Springs Chapel