October 27, 2021


This photo was taken at the Nashville Downtown Partnership Annual Awards Luncheon at the Omni Nashville in October, 2017.  Rob McCabe (left) had just presented me with an amazing award, and posing with us were Tom Turner (on my left) and Ron Gobbell.  Two months earlier, I retired from my 16-year stint at the Partnership.  Rob was the Board chairman the first year I came and remained a strong supporter and friend. Ron was the Board chairman when I left. And President and CEO Tom had been there since 2003.

A real turning point came when Steve Gibson wrapped up our two-year interim leadership of the group and launched a search for a permanent top executive.  I handled the logistics for candidate site visits and interviews.  Tom was clearly the top choice of the search committee, and that summer he and his family moved to Nashville from Portland, Oregon.

It was a real turning point—and I wasn’t sure that he would want me to continue in the role I’d had with Steve during the transition years.  But from the time I first picked him up at the airport, it seemed that we could work well together.  Our different interests and personalities complemented each other well.  

Our staff retention rate over the years was remarkable and as a team, we expanded the Partnership’s scope and influence more than we could have imagined at the beginning. It wasn’t always smooth sailing and there were tense times occasionally.  Always I felt that both of us expected excellence and valued integrity. 

One of the things I appreciated most about Tom was his commitment to his wife Kelly and their three children. He always said he wanted their house to be the one where all the neighborhood kids wanted to be, and it was. While he drove them to school, he refused to use his cell phone (and didn’t allow them to either).  He often would miss a business event to attend their school programs or ball games. I really liked those priorities!

After I retired, Tom and I decided to meet for lunch monthly if possible.  We challenged each other to find the most offbeat or authentic local “meat and three” for our lunches and during most of the pandemic, we enjoyed monthly lunches on my carport when the weather permitted. Sometimes he picked up burgers or pizza, sometimes I did. It’s always great to hear about new downtown projects, and exchange family news.  Happy birthday, Tom!

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