James Thomas Daniel was born in Dallas, Texas on September 6, 1941. He was deeply loved by his parents J. M. (Ben) and Lola Daniel. He was a twin along with his brother, Eddie Daniel. He went to kindergarten in Liberty, Texas where he first met the love of his life, Sally. He told her then he would marry her someday. They lost touch for period of time when his family then moved to Bryan, Texas and completed primary school there and graduated from Stephen F. Austin High School on May 25, 1959. He went on to attend the University of Texas in Austin where he was a proud member of the Longhorn Band. He was honored his Freshman year with a lettering award. He then left school for a period of time to work at various jobs including Gates Saw, Coats Jewelers, and Moore Furniture. During this time he found his love again and married Sally Carl on March 27, 1970. They were married for 37 years before Sally found her heavenly home.
Tommie was a strong advocate for education even before he became a teacher. He served on the Cleveland Independent School District Board of Education, not only as a Trustee but as Board President from 1980-1981. But that was not enough. Tommie’s beloved Sally was a math teacher. She led Tommie to his second passion after his passion for her, a passion for teaching. Tommie graduated on August 17, 1996 with a Bachelor of Arts in History from Sam Houston State University and soon after began his teaching career at Cleveland High School along with his Sally. He was so proud of her and her incredible talent for teaching mathematics. He shouted her praises all her life and never stopped after she passed. He did not “toot his own horn” however. He was, by all student accounts, an incredible English and writing teacher but he was also an inspiration and guide to all who spent time with him. He believed in his students, sometimes when no one else would. He loved them and cared about what happened to them. He wanted them all to succeed. It was his calling and not just a job and he taught for over twelve years before retiring. Tommie was most proud of his award as Cleveland ISD Secondary Teacher of the Year – it was a public affirmation of all he brought to his job, his students and his fellow educators.
Tommie had yet another passion in life – music – and particularly the piano which he played so beautifully. This passion was also shared with his dear Sally. Their duets on piano, or piano and organ, were music one would expect to hear in heaven. He enjoyed Facebook and would often share his talents through self-recordings, particularly when he was quarantined, with everyone with whom he was friends. He was the church pianist for St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church where you could find him on Sunday praising God and spreading his love of God through music. I suspect there is a grand piano in heaven reserved with his name on it, tuned and ready for his talented fingers to bring to life.
Tommie’s last passion that filled his life of recent years was the Rotary Club. Rotary indeed lost one of its best and most fervent ambassadors when Tommie passed. He served in virtually every official capacity for Rotary but generally took on the arduous task of secretary year after year. Many can claim membership in Rotary but few worked as hard as Tommie did. If they sold raffle tickets, Tommie sold the most; if they needed volunteers at fundraisers, Tommie was the first in line. He gave not only of his talents but financially as well – and was a Paul Harris Fellow many times over in financial support of all that Rotary stands for, from promoting education through scholarships, to digging wells in third world countries, to eradicating polio all around the world – he has and always will be what every Rotarian and decent human being should strive to be – a Godly man who gave generously to help all those in need. Tommie received the highest honors bestowed on a Rotarian including the Roll of Fame, the Paul Harris Society and Avenues of Service. The Rotarian motto of “Service before self” was never better exemplified than through Tommie. Many of his dearest friends came through Rotary including me, Scott Lambert, Larry Middleton, West Smith, Amanda Brooks and all members of the Cleveland Rotary Club.
Tommie is preceded in death by his loving parents, J. M. (Ben) Daniel and Lola Daniel, his beloved brother, Eddie Daniel, his beloved daughter, the Rev. Mary Nan McMullen, his longtime friend, James “J.T” Tanner, and his dear, much loved wife, Sally Carl Daniel. He is survived by his sister, Evelyn Smoot, his nephew, Kurt Daniel and wife Kara, his nephew Billy Ray Holt and his great-nieces and nephew, Preston, Laci and Mia Daniel. Tommie also leaves behind many beloved friends who will always cherish the time they were allowed to spend with him. Tommie freed himself from his earthly bindings, leaving behind any illness and pain, on January 2, 2021. Today we lay his earthly body to rest. We will miss him.
Visitation will be 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., Tuesday, January 5, 2021 at Pace Stancil Funeral Home, Cleveland. Services will be at 2:00 p.m., Wednesday, January 6, 2021 at Pace Stancil Chapel. Interment will follow at Pace Stancil Memorial Rest Gardens.
For those desiring, donations may be made to the Rotary Club of Cleveland, P.O. Box 1243, Cleveland, Texas 77328.