Thomas Leroy (Tommy) Arnold
Thomas Leroy (Tommy) Arnold, longtime Seminole resident, peacefully passed from the arms of his loving family into the arms of his loving Savior, Jesus Christ, on Friday, June 11, 2021. Tommy was born May 14, 1960 in Shreveport, Louisiana to Seth Thomas and Maxie Wayne Lee Arnold. He was a member of a family with deep roots in the telephone industry, initially in rural Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas. Much of his childhood was spent in and around telephone equipment and offices. Tommy is a graduate of Plain Dealing Academy, where he lettered in football, basketball and academics, and served as president of his senior class. In his teenage years, he enjoyed participating in rodeo events. He was a heeler in roping events, often riding his horse "Arkansas Jane." At the age of fifteen, he lassoed the heart of a petite brunette, Gayla McKenzie, beginning a love that endured for more than four decades
He matriculated at Louisiana Tech University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. After graduation he went to work for Century Telephone, the business that was started by his grandfather and uncle, working in the engineering and computer science departments. Eventually he relocated to the Dallas/Fort Worth area to take on the management of a Century Telephone subsidiary. He was a principal in the start up of a number of telecommunication companies across central Texas.
In 2000, he moved his family to Oklahoma with the intent on making the Sooner state his permanent home. He quickly grew to love the Seminole community and its people. He was a huge supporter of Seminole Public Schools and the community at large. Tommy was an avid fan of whatever sport or activity his children or grandchildren were interested in. Watching his daughter, Katie, cheer and attending her tennis matches were some of the greatest joys of his life. He was a member, served as deacon, and taught Sunday school at First Baptist Church Seminole from 2000 to 2014. He became a member of First United Methodist Church in 2014 and served on the pastor parish relations committee and as a Bible study teacher. Tommy participated in leadership of Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) in Texas and in Oklahoma, and was responsible for establishing a BSF satellite group in Shawnee in 2016.
Tommy served as the first 911 director for Seminole County, helping to develop one of the best 911 systems in the state of Oklahoma. It serves as a model for many other communities, and many lives have been saved thanks to his hard work and leadership. In 2011, he was hired as the 911 Director by the Pottawatomie County Enhanced 911 System Trust Authority. He has served as Pottawatomie County Safety Director and Floodplains Manager, and is the current president of the Pottawatomie County Jail Trust. In 2017, he received the J. Gavin Brady Floodplain Manager of the Year. He served as OklaNENA President for several terms and currently serves as Vice President.
Throughout his life, Tommy always enjoyed working with children and youth, serving as a boy scout troop leader, soccer coach, Sunday school teacher, and dance granddad. He was an excellent cook of meats and desserts, with a specialty in foods with Louisiana flair. He also enjoyed star gazing, coin collecting, and photography. He loved Mexican food, ice cream, 1970's music, his family, traveling, and studying the Bible.
Tommy was a fiercely protective father, doting grandfather, and devoted husband. He was a gentle soul and friend to many. Known as Skipper, TomKat, Big Tom, and Granddad, by those who loved him most, he will be greatly missed and not forgotten.
Tommy is survived by his wife of 44 years, Gayla McKenzie Arnold; daughter, Amy; son, Seth; daughter, Katie (Stuart); grandchildren, Emma Arnold, Lane McDaniel and Elle McDaniel; sister, Lynda Arnold Baker (Tommy); sister-in-law, Karen McKenzie Cook (Kelly); sister-in-law, Johnna McKenzie Ervin (Mike); and many nieces, nephews, and cousins. He is preceded in death by his parents.
Pallbearers are Christopher Baker, Lee Baker, Cole Baker, Jon-Michael Ervin, Kassidy Cook, Trey Ervin, Grayson Ervin, Jeb Rollins, and Travis Hays. Honorary pallbearers include Tommy Baker, Kelly Cook, Mike Ervin, Joe Taylor, Steve Wall, Bill Watkins, Joel Kirklin, Ron Blackwell, Clay Henry, Jack Tinsley, and Harry Coates.
Arrangements are under the direction of Swearingen Funeral Home in Seminole, Oklahoma. Funeral services will be held at 10:30 A.M., Wednesday, June 16, 2021 at the First United Methodist Church , 910 West Wrangler Blvd. in Seminole, Oklahoma. Dr. Tommy Clark and Pastor Lamarla Cook will officiate the service. Interment will follow at Vamoosa Cemetery, south of Seminole, Oklahoma on Highway 99/377.
In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting memorial donations be made to Bible Study Fellowship International, the Prader Willi Foundation, and/or the American Cancer Society.
Posted online on June 14, 2021