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End of an era - Tommy David ends term as OTC Board Chair
Tommy David 1
Tommy David - photo by Special
    After many years of involvement on the Ogeechee Technical College Board of Directors, F. Tommy David presided over his final Board meeting at the College June 18.  In honor of David’s departure from the Board, David’s long-time friend, and freelance writer, Ric Mandes, spent some time as David reminisced about his passion for technical education and Ogeechee Tech.  The story follows…  

    When Tommy David looked into the faces of the Governing Board for Ogeechee Technical College last Tuesday, it was the finale to his 14 years of dedication, determination and desire to move OTC and its mission to its highest point.
    “It’s been quite a ride,” smiles David.
    When asked what started such a 14-year movement taking him to all the “chairs” of the OTC Foundation and then ultimately being nominated and confirmed as a member of the Governing Board for OTC, David recalls that first moment.
    “I was sitting in what was still a brand new office at the Sea Island Bank, when in walked a member of the SIB Board of Directors, David Ball. Ball and community leaders Earl Dabbs and Becky Livingston were seeking volunteers for the first OTC, then Ogeechee Technical Institute, fundraising campaign –  “Five Days in May.”
    When David asked if I would assist, my reply was an immediate ‘yes.’  After all, how could I say let me think about it to a member of our bank’s board.”
    That was l994.
    Fourteen years later, T. David, is about to “move on.”
    “Hey, it’s time,” he adds. “But will I miss it? Heck yeah. Little did I know where this road would lead me. Little did I know how high and strong the mission of OTC was, is and will continue to be – that of touching lives, of developing dreams, of my seeing students who want to be tax payers rather than tax burdens.”
    He goes on: “But listen. Though I have held as many “chairs” as I have, locally and statewide, none of it would have been possible without the guidance and the daring of the late David Russell. Russell was ‘Mr. Get It Done’ and ‘Don’t Tell me It Cannot.’ And he knew how to play me like a fiddle,” T. David admits.
    Case in point:
    Dr. Ken Breeden, then State Commissioner, it seems took a look around Georgia and noticed a strong signal blinking from OTC’s Five Days in May (now the iGot, I Gave to Ogeechee Tech, campaign). Breeden gave a call to Russell about gathering up the Institutional Advancement Officers from the other units. Now we find the group in a Macon meeting hall, with Breeden’s introducing Russell to the group and asking him to explain how OTC was raising a hundred grand through its annual giving campaign.
    With that, Russell turns to T. David, who he talked into “just riding with me to a meeting in Macon,” and said the secret is community leadership such as Mr. David.
    “So what do I find myself doing,”  David said, “but sharing with this round table of officers how Five Days in May worked. I kept it simple stressing the importance of a foundation Board of Trustees beholding the canon of understanding the mission of the college and the courage to go forth and share their passion throughout our service area.”
    On the way home, T. David looks at Russell, a composition of total innocence, and states “Russell, that group just asked me to be president of this whole thing.”  
    This whole thing is now in full operation entitled: The Technical College Foundation Association. Breeden accomplished what he set out to do when he called Russell – all technical colleges are now on board, operating their annual fund such as found at OTC.
    “David Russell,” T. David, continues “had fire in his belly. He was way ahead of the rest of us. And there was no one who could change his mind when it came to an idea that would bring more dignity, more privileges to OTC students. This was his audience. And nothing was too good for them.”
    T. David looks across his desk at First Southern and states “my time outside this bank is family first, followed by church, United Way and OTC. “
    What moment in those 14 years will he remember the most?
    He pauses and states softly, “there are so many: serving as Foundation president, chairman of the Governing Board, state chair of the Tech College Foundation Association and probably the most special ofall, heading the presidential search committee that brought Dr. Dawn Cartee back home.”
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