Thomas Hearne Fooks V, 86, of Wilmington, died Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013, of natural causes at Rockland Place after a brief illness.
Born in Georgetown, to Georgia Rebecca Williams and Thomas Hearne Fooks IV, Tom was one of four children. He is survived by his sister Rebecca Fooks Lindsay of Toronto, Ont.; his sisters Lieanna "Lee" Fooks Barkdoll of Hockessin and Sarah "Sally" Fooks Borton of Wilmington pre-deceased him.
He is survived by his nieces and nephews Anne Williams Barkdoll, and partner David O'Keefe, Archie Edwin Barkdoll III and wife Zoe Weil, Schuyler Lippincott Borton and partner Faye Harbottle, Susan Lee Lindsay Klein and husband Adam Klein, Thomas Fooks Lindsay and wife Harriet MacMillan, Ashley Hearne Lindsay Mosher and spouse Janet Mosher, Holly Lindsay and husband Mark Crosby; and six grand-nieces and -nephews.
Tom's life was characterized by his active intellect, physical vitality, and personal generosity. He made his mark in real estate as an early developer of residential properties built on leased land that preserved native growth and integrated common, open spaces. He shared a deep interest in the history of the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia and supported research going back to the 17th century through his involvement with the Edward H. Nabb Research Center at Salisbury University.
Tom attended St. Andrew's School in Middletown and graduated in 1945 from St. James School near Hagerstown, Md. Upon graduation he joined the U.S. Navy in the waning days of World War II, serving in the Aleutian Islands off Alaska. In 1952 he received a bachelor of science degree in commerce from the University of Virginia, where he was a member of St. Elmo Hall fraternity, the TILKA society dedicated to student leadership and social function, and the IMP Society, dedicated to philanthropy and mischief. Upon his return to Virginia for homecoming following graduation, Tom was greeted at the train station by the university's marching band. In 1958 Tom received a degree from Temple University Law School and completed the Harvard Business School's Owner/President Management Executive Education Program in 1986.
After an early career which included ventures in a haberdashery, a watermelon farm, and a large scale chicken farming operation, Tom focused his interest on real estate development. His work led to his election to membership in the Young Presidents Organization. He developed projects in Rehoboth Beach, building the area's first condominium units. His residential projects were the first to incorporate leased-land financing and open-space planning to preserve natural habitat. Among his developments were innovative, award-winning designs at Rehoboth-By-The-Sea, Sea Strand, North Shores, the Edgewater House, and Bethany Beach. Near Wilmington, he developed the Deerfield residential community in Chadds Ford, Pa., and The Commons office condominiums on Silverside Road in Wilmington. In Maryland, he was instrumental in developing the 350 acre Fair Hill Training Center in Cecil County, a state-of-the-art training facility and stables for thoroughbred race horses. His last major real estate project, in Oxford, Md., preserved 85 acres of farmland at the town's entrance.
In his later years, Tom developed a deep interest in his heritage and the history of the Delmarva Peninsula. He compiled research that traced the ancestry of more than 600 family members, established nine ancestral lines to the Jamestown Plantation, and two direct lines back another twelve hundred years to the emperor Charlemagne. He was a member of the Society of Colonial Wars, where he organized and sponsored an update of descendants from Delaware. He was also a member of the Sons of the American Revolution, the Society of Cincinnati, and the Baronial Order of Magna Charta.
Tom devoted considerable time to civic and cultural programs as an active contributor to the Hagley Museum, Winterthur, and the Center for Digital History at the University of Virginia. He served on the board of directors of Wilmington's Fair Play Foundation, the Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture at Salisbury University, and the Harvard Business School Club of Philadelphia. His social memberships included the Wilmington Club, the Wilmington Country Club and the Union League.
In both business and social relations, Tom was known for his gentle demeanor, impeccable manners and relentless tenacity. As a negotiator, he found common ground between parties when no one else could. If common ground could not be found, Tom's persistence inevitably carried the day.
Though never married, Tom became an integral, honorary member of many families in Wilmington. Not only a devoted uncle to his own nieces and nephews, he took an avuncular interest in keeping abreast of his friends' children and committing to memory their accomplishments. Conversations with Tom habitually included queries about the latest developments with the children.
Donations may be made in memory of Thomas Fooks to the Nabb Center for Delmarva History, Research and Culture through the Salisbury University Foundation, Inc. PO Box 2655, Salisbury, MD 21801.