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My Truth: A Legend Indeed!

I met Thomas Dortch, Jr. in 1987.

Thomas W. Dortch, Jr.
Thomas W. Dortch, Jr.

I met Thomas Dortch, Jr. in 1987.

As president of the Dallas-Fort Worth Chapter of the Florida A&M University National Alumni Association, my focus was on service (serving our alumni, students, communities).

Unlike other organizations that have vice presidents who are like persons in waiting or acting in abstentia; my vice presidents were put to work! So, I charged my VP, Dr Vivian Bradley Johnson, with a project that has withstood the test of time.

Now, those who are familiar with the 1970s cult favorite, The Warriors, will see the influence here. I told Dr. Viv to schedule a meeting at the historic Smokey John’s Barbecue; calling together the alumni chapter presidents of HBCUs located in the D/FW Metroplex.

The purpose of the meeting was to see if they would be interested in working together to better serve all of our institutions, because where there is unity, there is strength.

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With each alumni association having two representatives, everyone was on equal footing and under the direction of Mr. Dortch we organized an organization that still exists, almost four decades later, the Dallas Metroplex Council of Black Alumni Associations.

This organization has fun scholarships for hundreds of area students and Southern University’s Valerie Roussell is leading the charge today. Our chapters have helped one another on so many levels and we have a bond that allows us to be able to take jabs at one another in the spirit of competition, but come together for the greater good, which is the sustainability of HBCUs.

Thomas Dortch Jr.
Thomas Dortch Jr. (r) talks with HBCU alum at Smokey John’s
Barbecue in Dallas in 1987.

Which brings me to my truth.

The growth and development of HBCUs is only part of the legacy of Mr. Thomas Dortch. At the time of his death, he was serving on the board of trustees of Florida A&M University, and he served with distinction as he did on several other boards. Wherever he served he brought his intellect, commitment and resources.

Born in Georgia, Tommy, as he was fondly called, was an Eagle Scout.

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A National Science Foundation Scholar, student council president and basketball star in high school, he attended Fort Valley State University where he was the Student Body President and pledged Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, becoming a life member.

Tommy earned a B.A. Degree in Sociology and Pre-Professional Social Work from Fort Valley State University in 1972 and a Masters of Arts Degree in Criminal Justice Administration from Clark Atlanta University in 1986.

He also attended Georgia State University as a Ford Fellow in the Urban Administration Program. He received Honorary Doctorates from Fayetteville State University, Jarvis Christian College, Fort Valley State University, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and Livingstone College.

He did so much for so many and his works will live on forever.

I was saddened to hear about his passing because I always enjoyed reading about his works. Tommy Dortch showed us how to live life to its fullest.

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Born April 12, 1950, the author, entrepreneur, and community activist passed away on February 15, 2023.

For his many contributions, please join me in making contributions to: Thomas W. Dortch, Jr. Foundation or National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 42118, Atlanta, GA 30311.

Read more from his obituary:

In 1986, he joined 100 Black Men of America, Inc., a mentoring organization focused on leadership, education, health and wellness, and mentoring. He served as Chairman of 100 Black Men of Atlanta and was twice elected the Chairman of
100 Black Men of America’s National Board of Directors.

Tommy helped shape ‘The 100’ and developed it into an international force for Black youth empowerment. In 1986, he founded the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame Foundation, Inc., awarding over $1.1 million dollars in scholarships to HBCU students.

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This man was phenomenal!

In 1994, after more than 16 years of government service, Tommy served as CEO of the consulting firm TWD, Inc. and Atlanta Transportation Systems, Inc., Chairman and CEO of Cornerstone Parking, and Managing Partner of FAD Consulting, LLC. He co-founded the Georgia Association of Minority Entrepreneurs (GAME) and the Greater Atlanta Economic Alliance.

A much sought-after speaker on both national and international levels, he served on the Federal Executive Board, Federal Aviation Administration, Lockheed Georgia Corporation, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, United Negro College Fund, National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO), Congressional Black Caucus, Fort Valley State University, United States Department of Energy, American Cancer Society, Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Blacks In Government, and Anheuser-Busch Company, among others.

Tommy was the recipient of numerous awards and honors that celebrate his efforts, including listings in the 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004 Ebony Magazine as one of The 100 Most Influential African Americans; his listing in Spring 2001 through 2014 Publications of Atlanta Business Chronicle as one of The 100 Most Influential Atlantans; the 2008 Community Service Professional of the Year Award; the 2008 FraserNet Community Service Award; the 2008 Global Leadership Empowerment Award; and the Board of Trustees of Leadership Atlanta.

He served as Vice Chairman of the Board of Grady Memorial Hospital Corporation; Chairman of the Board, Friendship Force International; Chairman of the Board, Fulton/DeKalb County Hospital Authority; and a member of the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Atlanta Hospitality Hall of Fame.

Tommy served three terms as Chairman of The Board of The Atlanta Business League. Other organizations include Operation Hope, Board of Trustees; Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, Board of Trustees; Talladega College, Board of Trustees; Clark Atlanta University, Board of Trustees; and National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (Chairman). He was recognized by Atlanta Business Chronicle as one of the 50 Most Admired CEOs in 2019; and by Atlanta’s Magazine’s as one of the 500 Most Influential Leaders.

Recently, Clark Atlanta University established the TWD Institute in his honor and Fort Valley State University also named a building in his honor. Tommy loved to travel the world; he enjoyed soul food and Chinese food. A true Renaissance man, Tommy was a wine aficionado, vintner, and sommelier.

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