PICKREN, Thomas Robert
September 20, 1945 – February 16, 2021
On Tuesday, February 16, 2021, Thomas Robert Pickren passed away at the age of 75. Tom was born on September 20, 1945 to Jessie Mae Harrison and Woodrow Wilson Pickren of Folkston, GA. Tom was a proud Young Harris College alumnus (Class of 1965) and attended the University of Georgia from 1965 –1968. (He made sure to squeeze in one extra football season before leaving Athens!) After college, Tom built a career in commercial real estate and was very proud to be associated with his colleagues at Adams Cates. His tenure at Adams Cates was a formative and special time in Tom's life and sparked a love affair with real estate. If you were ever lucky enough to travel through the city of Atlanta with Tom, you know full well how he could easily recite the present and all previous owners of any parcel of real estate back to its origins.
In his thirties, Tom began to show signs of and was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It was during this time that he felt a calling to a second career as a funeral director. He spent nearly 20 years with A.S. Turner and Sons, a highly regarded family-owned funeral home. Tom thoroughly enjoyed and treasured his relationships with the Turner family and all of his colleagues at A.S. Turner and Sons. Tom cherished his role as funeral director, providing genuine empathy, warmth and care to families as only he could.
Tom, known to friends as Tommy or Pick, was a social butterfly and a natural born leader from the very beginning. He was a star athlete at Charlton County High School. He went on to be President of the student body at Young Harris College where he is fondly remembered by friends and classmates greeting each car on the first day of school with his usual outgoing and friendly demeanor. He was a proud member of the SPAT club at Young Harris and he was elected Vice President of his fraternity, Alpha Tau Omega, at UGA. Once in the professional world, he was President of the Junior Chamber Convention Committee (when the JC National Convention was held in Atlanta in 1972) and a member of the Benedicts of Atlanta. Tommy never met a stranger and had a true ability to make people feel loved and important.
An avid learner and voracious reader, there was hardly a topic under the sun that Tom didn't know at least a little bit about. Even as he aged, his memory remained laser sharp and he loved to tell a good story. Tom was also a man of faith and a lifelong, proud member of the United Methodist Church.
Tom lived with bipolar disorder for over 35 years. Despite such a life-altering diagnosis, Tom never lost his positive attitude and he continued to live with gentleness and graciousness, with his charisma and sense of humor ever intact. He spent the last seven years living at Wesley Woods Towers where he genuinely delighted in its foundation in the Methodist Church and enjoyed his encounters with fellow residents and the warm and caring staff.
Above all else, Tom loved his family dearly. The annual Pickren Family Reunion in South Georgia was an event Tom looked forward to all year. He was the middle brother of three boys, bookended by the eldest brother Woody and the youngest Terry. The three Pickren brothers had a multitude of misadventures together as young men and were good friends all throughout Tom's life. Among many brotherly rituals, they will miss their regular barbecue lunches together.
In 1968, Tom married Betsy Corley Pickren (Thompson) who he met at Young Harris College; they were married for nearly ten years and remained good friends throughout his life. In 1985, Tom married Susan Taylor Pickren. Susan and Tom were married for thirty years and enjoyed traveling together and loved their Sunday School class at Decatur First Church. Susan played an incredibly significant role in helping Tom navigate his bipolar disorder while still living life to the full.
Tom was preceded in death by his paternal grandparents, Thomas Lovett Pickren and Dora Johnson Pickren; maternal grandparents, Robert Ward Harrison and Eva Bunkley Harrison; beloved parents, Jessie Mae Harrison Pickren and Woodrow Wilson Pickren and his niece Nicole Pickren. We are comforted that they are reunited and rejoicing together in Heaven. Tom is survived by his loving and faithful brothers, Woodrow Wilson Pickren Jr. (Linda) and William Terry Pickren (Libba); his nephew Woodrow Wilson (Trey) Pickren III (Renee) and nieces Alley Elizabeth Pickren Staples (Jeb), Jessie Camden Pickren Warner (Tristan) and Anna Lovett Pickren as well as three great-nephews Harrison Garrett Pickren, Zane Cole Pickren and Daven Gore Pickren.
Our hearts are broken to lose such a sweet and gentle soul, we will miss him dearly. But we are also thankful for his life and all that he gave to us; if you had the good fortune of knowing Tom, your life was surely the better for it.
Celebrations of Tom's life will be held in Atlanta and Folkston when it is safe to gather. Tom will be buried in Folkston, GA alongside his parents at Pineview Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Tom's memory to Young Harris College - YHC.edu/giving - or Wesley Woods Foundation - https://www.wesleywoods.org/donate/