Thomas Eugene Pruden Jr.

Published 5:48 pm Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Thomas Eugene Pruden Jr., 88, of Suffolk, passed away on Oct. 9, 2021.

He was born on June 9, 1933, in Suffolk to Thomas Eugene Pruden and Marie Oliver Pruden. He was a 1951 graduate of Chuckatuck High School. When Tom first saw the “rolling hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains” outside of Charlottesville at 17 years old, he knew the University of Virginia would be his alma mater. While at UVA, he was a member of the Army ROTC and brother of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. He graduated in 1955 with a Bachelor of Science in education. Tom was a UVA Wahoo through and through and a longtime supporter of the Virginia Athletics Foundation. Upon graduation, he commissioned as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army and served on active duty from 1955-57. He retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel after 28 years in the Army Reserves.

Following active duty, he returned to Suffolk, where he taught and coached at Holland High School and Forest Glen High School until 1967. Tom truly loved coaching and mentoring his student athletes. Those friendships remained over the years, and in 2005, the Holland Dutchmen honored him with a tribute and reunion. During his ensuing 32-year banking career, he worked for United Virginia Bank and Essex Bank.

In keeping with his hometown pride, Tom contributed to his community through numerous civic organizations. He served on the Town of Holland Council, was president of the Holland Ruritan Club, chairman of the Suffolk Industrial Authority, chairman of the Suffolk Retail Merchants Association, a deacon of Holland Christian Church, chairman of Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce/Suffolk Division, a member of the Suffolk Rotary Club, and currently a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

Perhaps because he was an only child, “Pops” delighted in his ever-growing loving family. He was so proud of his children and grandchildren and the values they shared. Both family and friends encouraged Tom to tell and retell his library of lifetime stories. Plenty of laughter and joking always followed. He was not a big talker, but when he did speak it was honest, open and filled with wit. He thoroughly enjoyed spending time at his Hoos Happy House in Nags Head, North Carolina and going bird hunting. Give Tom his loyal bird dog, a crisp autumn day, and a field with hedgerows, and he was in heaven just as he is now.

Left to honor his life are his wife, Gail Ferguson Pruden; his sons, Thomas Eugene Pruden III (Sally), Mark Manlove Pruden (Young Mi); Gail’s children, Grier Stotlar Crosby (Barry) and James “Jay” Edwin Stotlar (Brooke); grandchildren, Katie Crosby (Brett), Spencer Pruden, Grace Campbell (Adam), Paul Pruden, Jay Hefti (Taylor), Adam Hefti (fiancé Lauren), Abigail Crosby, Jackson Crosby, Dayne Stotlar and Cole Stotlar; and great-grandchildren, Caroline and Laura Crosby. He is also survived by his wonderful in-laws, Phil and Cindy Ferguson, Grier and Nancy Ferguson, Al and Lydia Byrum, and a host of many other special family members. Never to be forgotten are his beloved beagle buddies, Mindy and Dash.

A celebration of life will be held at 11 a.m. Nov. 4, 2021, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Suffolk, with the Rev. Keith Emerson officiating. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in memory of Tom to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 213 N. Main St., Suffolk, VA 23434; the Suffolk Humane Society, 412 Kings Fork Road, Suffolk, VA 23434; or a charity of your choice. R.W. Baker Funeral Home, 509 W. Washington St., Suffolk, VA 23434 is handling the arrangements.

He Cheered our Hearts and Warmed our Souls. WAHOOWA!