A Tribute to Tom McWilliams
McWilliams remembered as a friend and mentor
The Mississippi Credit Union Association and the Mississippi credit union community are heartbroken by the passing of Tom McWilliams, Senior Vice President of the Mississippi Credit Union Association. Tom passed away Friday, March 11, 2022.
McWilliams’ distinguished credit union career spanned almost 40 years. May of 2022 would have been his 36th anniversary with the Mississippi Credit Union Association. He was a Certified Meeting Planner (CMP), a Credit Union Development Expert (CUDE), and a Certified Credit Union Executive (CCUE). He was also a former chairman and education director of the Southeast CUNA Management School.
Recognizing his dedication and service to the credit union movement, Credit Union Magazine readers selected Tom as “Credit Union Hero of the Year” in 2018. Tom was well-known throughout the credit union movement, and his contributions influenced the development of credit union and league leaders in Mississippi and across the nation.
Tom was an active member of Meeting Planners International (MPI) and served as a chapter officer and chapter director. He received the “Rising Star of the Year” award and the “Meeting Planner of the Year” award from his local MPI chapter. He was also selected “Meeting Planner of the Year” by the National Speaker’s Association. In addition, he was twice recognized by the Jackson Visitors and Convention Bureau as a “Hometown Hero” for his efforts in promoting Jackson, Mississippi.
Tom had many friends, and he gave his time and support to others selflessly and with genuine, heartfelt caring. Tom loved people and had a special ability to connect with an individual on a personal level, forever remembering, acknowledging and appreciating the small details of their life that make them, and his relationship with them, unique. He often celebrated those connections through a simple handwritten note, a special phone call, or a thoughtful small token of appreciation.
Tom was a proud graduate and fervent athletics fan of Mississippi State University (MSU) and had served as a board member for the Central Mississippi MSU Alumni Association. He was a member of First Baptist Church in Jackson, Mississippi.
On his 2018 Credit Union Hero of the Year recognition, Tom said:
“Across the decades of my career, I have been blessed to know and build an amazing credit union family. I love what I do, and my motivation has always been simple: A desire to offer the best professional growth opportunities to help others become heroes for their own members. I am honored and truly humbled to receive this recognition and to know I have made a difference.”
OBITUARY AND TRIBUTE WALL
Harry Thomas McWilliams, 66, passed away March 11, 2022 at St. Dominic Hospital in Jackson, Mississippi. Tom was born December 27, 1955 in Meridian, Mississippi. At a young age, he moved to Starkville, Mississippi where he graduated from Starkville High School. He was active in Boy Scout Troop #45 earning the honor of Eagle Scout and membership in Order of the Arrow. Tom graduated from Mississippi State University in 1978 and was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity.
Tom started his professional career with McRae’s Department Store followed by a banking career in Macon and Meridian. During his forty year career with the Mississippi Credit Union, Tom became a Senior Vice President. Along with many other honors, he was selected by his peers to be the National Credit Union Hero of the Year in 2018.
Tom was a member of First Baptist Church, Jackson. He was preceded in death by his parents, Leon C. McWilliams, Jr. and Ann Scrivener McWilliams of Starkville. Survivors include brothers Clay McWilliams (Beverly) of Flowood, MS, Gordon McWilliams of Acworth, GA, and sister Cathy McWilliams Kerr(Mike) of Starkville, MS, four nieces, and one nephew plus several great nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held at St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church on Sunday, March 20th at 2 PM. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Annie Armstrong Missions Offering at First Baptist Church, Starkville or Jackson; McWilliams Family Endowment at Mississippi State University Foundation; or a charity of your choice.
Instead of floral arrangements, condolences can be expressed through a memorial contribution to any of the following organizations designated by Tom:
1ST BAPTIST CHURCH STARKVILLE
106 E. Lampkin Street, Starkville, MS 39759
Memo: In memory of Tom McWilliams
1ST BAPTIST CHURCH JACKSON
431 N. State Street, Jackson, MS 39205
Memo: In memory of Tom McWilliams
MCWILLIAMS FAMILY ENDOWMENT FUND AT MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY
Payable to and mailed to the MSU Foundation, Inc.
PO BOX 6149, Mississippi State, MS 39762
Memo: In Memory of Tom McWilliams; Designate to McWilliams Family Endowment
Follow the on-screen instructions. Select OTHER for the designation option. When prompted, provide the fund name, McWilliams Family Endowment, then indicate the gift is in memory of Tom McWilliams in the “Would you like your gift to honor someone special?” section.
Call-in by Credit Card
Call the MSU Foundation at 662.325.1834 and speak with Tammie Jackson to give via credit card.
CHILDREN’S OF MISSISSIPPI
Children’s of Mississippi
2500 N. State Street, Jackson, MS 39216
Memo: In memory of Tom McWilliams
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE CREDIT UNIONS OF MISSISSIPPI, FROM THE ADAMS
March 14, 2022
Tom McWilliams will be sorely missed. We join you during this time of grieving because we, too loved Tom so very much.
Tom’s picture should be next to the definition of servanthood. His serving of people and the credit unions of your great state was unparalleled. He was the standard-bearer. Tom set the bar at such a high level that my wife and I just marveled at his “spirit of giving.” His banner of excellence flew high without equal or comparison.
Tom was Mississippi’s greatest champion. The Chamber of Commerce should have paid Tom. His pride in the state and the great people who call it home should forever be indebted to Tom’s lifting up of your many virtues. And of course, his love for his alma mater was one of his favorite topics. His loving accolades for Mississippi State’s greatness was so convincing that the “Dawgs” became a rooting interest for me and my family. I wear my baseball national championship t-shirt with loving delight. Tom, of course, sent me the gift after their victory.
Tom was so giving of both his time and treasures. His network of contacts was so wide and encompassing that Tom would find things out second, third, fourth hand and he would react accordingly. He would celebrate people’s victories with kind words in a small card. He would share in our pain with words of comfort. He provided encouragement to anyone hurting when words of hope was what was needed. When we shed tears, he never thought to laugh.
A stately, southern gentleman was Tom McWilliams. He was draped with humility, kindness, eloquence, and love. No finer man we have ever known. God bless his family, friends, and the great people of Mississippi’s many credit unions. We have lost one of the truly great people in our industry.
We join you in celebrating the life of a great man, a great servant, a man of God, a gentleman, and our dear friend. Rest in peace our brother in Christ. We love you.
Patrick & Liz Adams
Credit union movement colleague and friend of Tom McWilliams
In honor and remembrance, Tom’s 2018 Credit Union Hero of the Year video:
CELEBRATION OF LIFE SERVICE LIVE-STREAMED
A Celebration of Life service for Tom was held Sunday, March 20. It can be viewed at https://youtu.be/t4uSTinIBr4.
Cards can reach Tom’s family by mailing to Clay McWilliams, 901 Topaz Court, Flowood, MS 39232.