Aug. 20, 1959- Nov. 3, 2019
The Honorable Judge Thomas Linn “Tom” Garner was born in Pocahontas, Ark., on Aug. 20, 1959 to Elijah Linn and Willie Ann Horrell Gamer and died in Ash Flat, Ark. on Nov. 3, 2019. He was preceded in death by his mother and grandparents, Tom and Isa Mae Godwin Gamer of Ash Flat and James William Blandford “Bud” and Edith Hosman Horrell of Hardy.
He was a highly respected and admired lawyer, and his untimely death sent shockwaves throughout the state. Tom passionately loved his parents, sister and family and was always there in every way to show his love.
As a child, Tom loved collecting rocks, marbles, reading ( especially comic books) and anything “Cowboy.” But, one of his greatest accomplishments and titles was being “Best-Big Brother” to his younger sister, Julea.
Tom graduated from the Salem High School in 1979 , where he was a proud member of the Junior High School Basketball team that had a 31-0 championship year. He later attended Arkansas State University in Beebe and then transferred and graduated from Arkansas College (now Lyon College) in 1982. He was a prolific writer, much because of being taught by his mother and the influence of his college advisor/mentor/professor and friend, Dr. Terrell Tebbetts. He went on to graduate from the University of Arkansas Law School and became a law partner with his friend, the Honorable Judge Kevin King in Hardy, Ark. After some time, Tom opened his own law firm in Glencoe, Ark. Tom loved the law and helping others in the self-proclaimed title of “an attorney for his neighbors.” After service in private practice for many years, Tom served the Third Judicial District first as Prosecuting Attorney and later being appointed by Governor Asa Hutchison as Judge of the Third Judicial District.
In his youth, Tom enjoyed any and all animals. He helped raise cattle on his family farm and thoroughly enjoyed raising quarter horses, in fact, one that went on to race at the track. He had a special connection and love for all animals, one specifically being his bird dog, Amber, which he loved greatly.
Tom loved eating bologna sandwiches at Hubert Ellises store in Peace Valley with lifelong family friend, Oliver Wilson, who lived on the Garner farm. Every Friday, you could find Tom enjoying a burger at the Ash Flat Livestock Auction. Tom’s first official job was working for Buster Tankersly at Pioneer Frontier Land in helping take care of the animals. Tom went on to win several trophies in many rodeo events.
He loved his favorite breakfasts that consisted of a Mountain Dew and a Honey Bun. He later became a huge fan of Mrs. Farris’ pinto beans that his roommate, Brett Farris, would bring to Tom in college. Tom, along with Keith Feather, Brett Farris and Terry Pence were a well-known foursome of close friends in college. Tom proudly drove his first vehicle, a 1972 green Chevy truck, which he never sold and was used to carry his casket to his gravesite for burial. Tom loved to bird hunt, especially with his father and brother-in-law, Brien.
Tom was a good husband and loved many things about his married life and having a family. He loved being a fantastic uncle to his niece, Lillie Gamer Hall. And there could not be a greater father than Tom to his three step-children, Mark Knighten, Kyle Knighten and Katy Kalb. He adored and loved these children greatly, and they loved him.
As a Judge, Tom loved helping families reunite in CASA cases and helping families officially adopt foster children. In his special love of children, Tom was also known for his spoiling them, such as giving his infant niece cake frosting and drinks of Mountain Dew when no one was watching.
Teaching the kids to drive, help count cows and look for newborn calves, educating them in mock court for Izard County Consolidated and supporting the children in all of their school activities. One of his niece’s last and loving memories was of Tom attending her All-Region choral recital in Jonesboro, telling her how proud he was and that he loved her. She just couldn’t believe he· drove all that way to listen to her sing, while we all knew he would have driven 1000 miles further, if needed.
Tom was a lifelong member of the Peace Valley Baptist Church, where he served for many years as a Sunday School teacher and was a great support for Christian ministry programs. Tom helped with many local church vacation Bible Schools, helping educate and bing young people to know and love their Lord, Jesus Christ. Tom rejoiced at the sight of any new believer in Jesus Christ and never backed down from sharing his faith with others.
Tom’s first business was a successful quilting for infants business, Quil-Ark, located in Glencoe, Arkansas. He continued to thrive in business with raising cattle, buying and selling land, raising good farms all over north Arkansas and his last business venture of being a co-owner in Gym Masters Corporation located in Searcy, Ark.
Tom lived by the words of the book of Isaiah 6:8, “And what does the Lord require of Thee, but to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.”
Tom was buried in a private family service at the Wiles Cemetery in Ash Flat on Nov. 4, 2019.
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