1927 Thomas 2021

Mr. Thomas Edward McGaha

February 8, 1927 — June 8, 2021

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Thomas Edward McGaha, Sr. on June 8th, 2021. He was in his 94th year. He left us peacefully in his sleep with family in attendance while at the Juniper Village Skilled Nursing Community in Austin, Texas. Born in the small town of Arkabutla, Mississippi, He was a first-hand witness to all of the incredible history that unfolded for the greatest generation. He spent his childhood in Arkabutla, Mississippi where he attended grade school through high school graduating in 1944. There he also worked at his father’s general store, raised cotton, mowed lawns and faithfully attended Arkabutla Baptist Church. Not wanting to be left out of the ongoing war effort he enlisted in the Navy immediately after high school at the tender age of 17 and completed recruit training at the US Naval Training center in Great Lakes, Illinois on April 28,1945. There he set a standard for himself that would follow him throughout the rest of his life as he completed the training as an Apprentice Petty Officer First Class with designation as “Honor Man” for “qualities which are particularly characteristic of a real man-of-warsman”. During World War II he was assigned to the USS Charles P. Cecil (DD-835) for duties in the Pacific as part of Joint Task Force One and also served aboard the destroyer’s fuel escort ship where as a machinist mate he operated boilers on the ships while they were under way. At the war’s end he concluded his tour of duty assisting with reconstruction efforts in Nagasaki. He discharged from the Navy in July 1946 but remained in the USN Reserve until 1947 and like many men of his time headed straight to college. In this case it was Mississippi State College (Hale State!) where he began his studies and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from The School of Business and Industry on May 23, 1949. While attending Mississippi State he was initially recruited to join the basketball team as he had been a star player in high school, however, he elected to focus on academic life instead and at this he vigorously excelled. Tom served with distinction as an ROTC instructor being recognized as a Distinguished Military Student. He was also a second lieutenant in the Society of Scabbard and Blade and was elected Secretary of the Mississippi State Student Association. Additionally, Tom joined the Sigma Phi Epsilon social fraternity and served on their Inter-Fraternity Council. Tom served as the sports editor and assistant business manager for the student newspaper Reveille. He was a member of the Accounting Club, selected for the Freshman YMCA council, was elected to the Blue Key and Omicron Delta Kappa honor societies and was selected for the 1948-1949 Who’s Who in American Universities. He was generally regarded as one of the most well-known and well-liked leaders on Campus. After graduation he began what would be a stellar career with the IBM Corporation. It was also at this time that he met the love of his life Myrtle Simmons on a double date. Myrtle was the sister of Sam Simmons one of Tom’s fraternity brothers. By all accounts it was love at first sight and they were married June 24, 1951. As with the Navy and college, Tom also excelled during his 33 years in sales with IBM where he worked as a branch sales manager and was a consistent member of the 100% club and earned many Golden Circle awards. It was there that he was also selected as a “Flying Colonel” by Delta Air Lines for major contributions to and support of the Air Transportation Industry. Additionally Tom was quite active in civic duties as well: Leadership Member Boy Scouts of America New Orleans Counsel US Congressional Advisory Board for Louisiana Chairman of the National Alliance of Businessmen for the New Orleans Area Vice President and later President of the Boy Scouts of America Capital Area Council in Austin, Texas A major contributor to the Boys Clubs of Austin and Travis County A member of the Mississippi State University Development Foundation Texas Association of Businessmen Rotary Club Tom and his wife Myrtle moved frequently during his career with IBM. They began their life together in Jackson MS and then were moved to Houston TX, Galveston TX, back to Houston TX, then to New Canaan CT for work at IBM headquarters in White Plains NY followed by New Orleans LA and finally to Austin TX where Tom retired and spent the next 40 years. He was a dedicated father and provider for his family. He raised his family with Christian values and served as both a Sunday school teacher and deacon at the First Baptist Church of New Orleans. Tom and Myrtle were members of Riverbend Church in Austin and made many new friends there. In retirement Tom thoroughly enjoyed family trips, playing golf, jogging, and even went back to work for a short time as Vice President of Marketing for the Adams Extract and Spice Company. We will miss Tom’s booming baritone voice and his cheerful countenance. He was always there for the entire family to provide guidance and council. Tom is survived by his three children; daughter Mary and her husband Nelson Mikeska, Jr.; son Thomas Jr. and his wife Amy; and daughter Diane Hendren. He is also survived by his brother-in-law Sam Simmons. Grandchildren include; grandson Neil Mikeska J.D. with wife Dianne and their child (great granddaughter) Vivian; grandson Dr. Andrew Mikeska with wife Rebecca; grandson Nick Gottlieb with wife Kayla; and granddaughter Alyssa Gottlieb with Fiancé Max Dulin. He also leaves behind numerous cousins, nieces, nephews and their families and children. Tom is preceded in death by his wife of 69 years Myrtle McGaha; his parents George and Helen McGaha and one grandchild Grant Hendren. There will be a visitation at Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home on North Lamar Blvd. from 6:00 to 8:00 pm on Monday June 14th. A graveside service will be held at the Utica Cemetery in Utica, Mississippi at 11:00 am on Friday June 18th. We would like to extend a special thank you to Brookdale Hospice and Juniper Village at Spicewood Summit for all of their care and kindness these last two years. In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to The American Heart Association, The Alzheimer’s Association or to a charity of your choice.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Mr. Thomas Edward McGaha, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

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Graveside Service

Utica Cemetery

, Utica, MS 39175

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