Thomas Gray Gartrell was born December 1, 1938 in Ardmore, Oklahoma. He was the oldest of four children of Clyde Thomas and Dessie Hathaway Gartrell. He died June 11, 2019. He was preceded in death by his parents, his youngest brother Gerry and his sister-in-law Rebecca Gartrell.
The family moved quite often during the early years of Tom’s life. When his father accepted the position as Superintendent of the Eustace Independent School District Thomas was a junior in high school. It was there that he met Linda Campbell who became his high school sweetheart and later his wife.
The ‘Class of ’57’ graduated and Tom went to junior college and then to North Texas State University, but soon after that there were rumors about the United States’ involvement in combating gorilla-warfare in the jungles of Viet Nam. Tom and Linda agreed that he should put his college studies on hold to join the Army Security Agency (a three year stint in the army). He was not sent to Viet Nam but spent his time in the states at Fort Devin, Massachusetts and then at Fort Hood, Texas. Their two children, Thomas Michael and Lana Elizabeth were born during that time, completing their little family.
They moved back to the Dallas area and Thomas was able to hire on with the Dallas Police Department, a career that he would have for 25 years. He received his degree in Business Administration at SMU but felt that he had found his place of service as a “cop.” He never felt he was fitted for sitting at a desk all day. He wanted to be busy, to be moving and be outdoors. As a patrolman there was plenty of action and he believed he was making a difference by protecting the citizens in the area where he served.
He liked to jog, ski and play softball, but when he learned to play golf he was hooked! It was the game of golf that led him to retire at the Cedar Creek Country Club Community. There, he had the best of worlds….He was outdoors doing what he loved in a beautiful setting and he was near family and friends that he had known most of his life.
Thomas was a service-oriented man and a man of faith who was active in church until he could no longer walk or care for himself. For many years he could be found on Sundays at his church, near his home in Garland, in the foyer ushering folks to their places or greeting friends as they arrived, working in the youth Sunday school department and supporting his pastor through the work of the deacon body.
When he and Linda moved to Cedar Creek Lake they began looking for a church home and found it at First Baptist, Mabank. He tried to help where needed as long as he was able. He was a member of the Valley Missions Team and enjoyed the hands-on construction ministry to provide church buildings in that area.
Thomas is survived by his wife Linda, their son Michael and his wife Louise, their daughter Lana and her husband David Simmons, three grandchildren, Dustin Simmons, Alden Gartrell and Jacob (Jake) Gartrell; his brother Ronald Gartrell, his sister Lou Ann and her husband Mike Beverly, his sister-in-law Judy Gartrell Lamb, and many nieces, nephews and friends.
In lieu of flowers, please honor Thomas’ memory through donations to First Baptist Church of Mabank Valley Missions Fund.