January 15, 2022
NOLAND, THOMAS TURLEY, JR., 68, passed away peacefully at home on January 15, 2022, following a two-year battle with cancer. He was an international journalist and writer, a retired Fortune-100 communications executive, and a consummate family man and lover of life. Tom was the son of Thomas Turley Noland, Sr., a born and bred Kentuckian, and the former Katharine Juliet (“Judy”) Kwis, who hailed from the New York suburb of Bronxville. Mr. Noland Sr., who was raised on a cattle and tobacco farm outside of Richmond, Ky., earned a chemical engineering degree at Purdue and moved to New York, where he met Judy. The two — she, who loved dancing, the arts and the bright lights of the big city, and he, who loved jokes and gardening and regained his Kentucky accent whenever he called his folks — were married the following April. They settled in Norwalk, Conn., and Tom Jr., their first child, was born in 1953. His younger sister, Katharine Juliet (“Kate”), came along five years later. The family eventually moved to nearby New Canaan, where Tom spent his adolescence. Tom loved to read and to run. He ran cross country in high school, and after his senior year ended, he and his high school team set a world record for the 24-hour relay, after which he collapsed in the back of a station wagon and headed out to see the West. He began his collegiate studies at Duke University the following fall and landed a 1973 summer internship at Anniston, Alabama’s locally owned daily newspaper, The Star. There, he showed writing and reportorial skills he nurtured during two subsequent summer internships at the St. Petersburg Times in St. Petersburg, Fla. After two years at Duke, Tom transferred to Yale University, where he graduated magna cum laude with honors in 1975. He spent much of the autumn following his graduation in Europe and Great Britain, spending a night in a Scottish jail, and falling in love with Paris. After coming home, he headed back to Anniston and The Star, where he would hang his hat from 1976 to 1979. As a reporter in Anniston, Tom drove his 1965 two-tone Mustang around The Star’s circulation area, writing about punk rockers, aspiring beauty queens, local election disputes, and the 1961 burning of a Freedom Rider bus on Anniston’s outskirts. When an African diplomat came to town, Tom interviewed him in French. In 1978, Tom won an Associated Press feature writing award for a piece on a local youth facing an uncertain future after high school and fleeting fame as a basketball player. Also while in Anniston, Tom wrote two books: the first a history of the town commissioned by The Star titled The Permissive Will of God, and the second, titled The Neglected Few, about the hardscrabble lives of the sharecropping forebears of Leonard Robinson, Jr., a former rural sheriff’s deputy. Paris, France followed Anniston, Alabama. He arrived in the City of Light in June 1979 and carved out a living by writing articles for U.S.-based syndicates, selling issues of a short-lived newspaper founded by expats, and teaching journalism and English at The American College. Later, he taught at the Centre de Perfectionnement Linguistique, a continuing-education school owned by Air France. He also found the love of his life, but she was 4,500 miles away. Vivian Ruth Sawyer was working at Horizon, a national arts magazine, and she edited articles Tom submitted for publication. At first, their relationship was that of editor and writer, but with time, they both became aware of a mutual attraction, even though they had never met or exchanged photographs. In September 1981, Tom threw caution to the wind and made a Stateside visit to meet Vivian, bringing with him a Cartier necklace that he had wiped out his savings account to purchase. The day after they met, on Vivian’s birthday, Tom proposed a lifetime partnership of literary endeavor and adventure. Vivian did not reply at first, but her answer, when it came a few days later, was yes. They were married on July 17, 1982, in Vivian’s hometown of Gainesville, Fla., and spent the next two years in Paris, living in a spacious but largely empty apartment overlooking the Canal St. Martin. There began a partnership of mind and heart, egalitarian in spirit, with innumerable shared passions. Above all, Tom and Vivian loved writing together. Writing was their common purpose and shared vocation throughout their life. To be closer to family and to participate more fully in civic life, Tom and Vivian returned to the States in 1984, landing in Louisville, Kentucky. The welcome they received from key Louisvillians Bobby and Sissy Nash, Richard and Cécile Spalding, David A. Jones and his wife Betty, and Wendell Cherry, was pivotal in their choosing to make the city their home. It was a decision they never regretted. In Louisville, Tom devoted three-plus decades to the practice of corporate communications at Humana Inc. Tom was chief spokesperson, often making public and television appearances regarding corporate news and public issues. In addition to his work in support of Humana’s business operations, Tom contributed to a range of company and related publications, including serving as co-editor of Remembering Wendell Cherry, about Humana's President and co-founder; co-editor of The Dacian Chronicles, a commemorative look at Humana’s efforts to help improve health care in Romania; and editor of September 11, 2001: Stories from 55 Broad Street, a book made up of the personal stories of Humana employees who were in Manhattan on the day of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Perhaps more than anything, Tom earned a reputation at Humana for his calm handling of just about every issue he and his team managed, from crisis communications to his day-to-day oversight of an affable team of writers, editors, designers, and p.r. professionals. To this day the family receives notes and messages from colleagues who credit his mentorship, leadership, and generous counsel. He ended his business career as senior vice president at Humana, and was keenly excited about the prospect of guest lecturing for the University of Florida in retirement, a volunteer activity he had just begun at the onset of his illness. His work resulted in his team at Humana receiving two national Silver Anvil Awards from the Public Relations Society of America, in his receiving the University of Kentucky’s annual Excellence in Public Relations Award in 2014, and in a personal membership in the Arthur W. Page Society. Tom also served the Louisville community in a myriad of ways. His favorite volunteer endeavors included three decades on the board of directors for the Filson Club Historical Society, including five years as president, six years on the board of directors for the Louisville Orchestra, including two years as president, and 13 years on the board of directors for the Greater Louisville Fund for the Arts, including three years as chair. He also served on the boards of the Louisville Ballet, the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, the Kentucky Opera, the Kentucky Center for African-American Heritage, the Downtown Development Corporation, Yale in Kentucky, the Partnership for Creative Economies, the Cabbage Patch Settlement House, U.S.A. Harvest, and the Kentucky chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. In 2010 Tom was the first-ever recipient of the James Welch Sr. Arts Leadership Award, given by the Greater Louisville Fund for the Arts. He wrote more than 50 book reviews and historical op-ed pieces for the Courier-Journal. In spite of his many career and civic commitments, Tom remained exuberantly devoted to Vivian and their two children, Andrew and Sidney. Neighbors still remark on the countless hours Tom spent playing catch with Andrew in the front yard of their antebellum home, which he and Vivian spent 30 years restoring. Tom and beloved friend Mike Vanover coached Sidney’s softball teams to dramatic championship wins at St. Matthews Little League. He could often be found at home in the evenings singing lustily off-key to his favorite opera, “La Traviata” while stirring a pot of marinara sauce and Italian sausage. He never said no to a game of Risk or chess with his children, which he always suspiciously lost. In more recent years, he and Andrew and Andrew's friends comprised a pub trivia team that provided stiff competition at local pizza parlors. A voracious reader, Tom was a walking source of reliable historical facts and etymology. Tom’s Christian faith shone through in his service on the vestries of Calvary and St. Francis in the Fields Episcopal Churches, through co-writing and teaching with Vivian more than 25 church-based adult education courses, Bible studies, and book discussions, and through their common retirement plans, which included the creation of The Consortium for Christian Unity, a nonprofit devoted to reconciliation and peacemaking among the various denominations of followers of Christ. Tom will be remembered as singularly accomplished, effortlessly charming, invariably supportive, persistently cheerful. He leaves a legacy of profound joy. Left to cherish his memory are his wife, Vivian Ruth Sawyer, his son, Andrew Montgomery Sawyer Noland (Ashley Marie Wimsett), his daughter, Sidney Victoria Sawyer (née Noland) Wood (Dane Isaac Wood), a sister, Katharine Juliet Noland, niece Julianne Hart Mariano and nephew James Thomas (J.T.). Mariano, grandchildren Helena Ruth Wood (Nell), Jenny Katherine Wood, and Adrian Turley Noland, and countless friends around the world. A memorial celebration of life and Eucharist will be held at St. Francis in the Fields Episcopal Church, 6710 Wolf Pen Branch Rd., Harrods Creek, KY 40027 on March 19 at 11 a.m., with interment of ashes at Cave Hill Cemetery at 2:30 p.m. In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy may be made to The Filson Club Historical Society, The Louisville Orchestra, or The Community of St. Anselm via The Consortium for Christian Unity, c/o Barlow Associates, Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc., 101 Bullitt Lane, Ste 400, Louisville, KY 40222 Family and friends are warmly invited to submit written memories of Tom, a selection of which will be published in a book entitled Remembering Tom Noland, to be distributed later in 2022. To receive additional information about writing a submission, please email: [email protected] Arrangements under the direction of Pearson's, "Where Louisville Goes To Remember."
NOLAND, THOMAS TURLEY, JR., 68, passed away peacefully at home on January 15, 2022, following a two-year battle with cancer. He was an international journalist and writer, a retired Fortune-100 communications executive, and a consummate family... View Obituary & Service Information
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