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In Memory of Tommy Bartlett


Bartlett 

 

  In Memory of

  Mr. Thomas George Bartlett Jr.

   June 6, 1928 - October 19, 2016

Obituary

 

 

 

 

 

Thomas "Tommy" George Bartlett, of Chattanooga, passed away peacefully at his home on Wednesday, October 19, 2016. The Scenic City legend was 88.

Few athletes can match Tommy Bartlett's years on this Earth. There was basketball, swimming, tennis, coaching, and of course, Essie Mae Roberts, family and friends. 

The Bartlett's were members of First Baptist Church and the Waters Sunday School Class.

Born in Homersville, GA., on June 6, 1928, he was raised an only child by his mother after his dad died three days after Tommy's birth following a fall off a ladder. Mom and infant son moved to Knoxville, where Tommy's athletic abilities would later soar. 

Basketball was his first love, but tennis came about unexpectedly in Tommy's life when he picked up a racquet and won the first tournament he entered as a youth, the Knoxville City Championship. He captured the title four consecutive years. Tommy also won Knoxville City Championships in swimming and ping pong.

After graduating from Knoxville High School, Tommy served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1946 -48, then entered the University of Tennessee. In basketball, he was captain of the 1952 team, earning ALL-SEC accolades. On the tennis court, Tommy captained the 1951 Volunteers and never lost a collegiate singles match. He also was a standout member of the UT swim team, drawing praise from one of his coaches, who noted, "Bartlett's one of the greatest all-around athletes in UT history". Tommy graduated Cum Laude from UT in 1952, majoring in Health & Physical Education. He began his coaching career at Dandridge High School in Jefferson County, then moved on to Lenoir City. His combined prep coaching record was a staggering 205 wins, 29 losses. Collegiately, Tommy first landed a job at Carson-Newman, then accepted the positions of head basketball and tennis coach at the University of Chattanooga. He later returned to UT as a basketball assistant to the legendary Ray Mears, then took over as head basketball coach at the University of Florida. Tommy's Gators stood toe to toe with Adolph Rupp's Kentucky Wildcats, the teams evenly splitting their dozen showdowns. Bartlett's collegiate basketball coaching mark at UC and Florida stood at 468 – 151.

Tommy returned to the Scenic City in 1979 as UT-Chattanooga head men's and women's tennis coach and manager-head pro at the Manker Patten Tennis Club. Tommy's tennis game leaped into high gear following his 45th birthday when he annually collected city, state (more than 60, singles and doubles), Southern (50) and national championships (31). He was inducted into 11 sports halls of fame, including the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 1986, the Southern Tennis Hall of Fame in 1991 and the ITA National Hall of Fame. It was in 1987 when Bartlett spoke of his accomplishments, saying, "I'm a lucky, lucky man. I admit I've had more than my fair share of good things come my way. You just have to be in the right place at the right time, and I have done just that". Tommy concluded a 33 year coaching career (basketball and tennis) of 1,083 wins, 251 defeats. He was also name Coach of the Year on 18 occasions, three times earned Pro of the Year honors and claimed Payer of the Year awards 17 times. Tommy and Essie retired from Manker Patten on December 1, 1996.

Tom was preceded in death by his parents, Thomas and Marie Bartlett Owenbey.

Tom is survived by his devoted wife of 64 years, Essie Bartlett; sons, Thomas (Tamela) Bartlett, III, William (Sue) Bartlett and Michael Bartlett; grandsons, Thomas Bartlett, IV (girlfriend, Sarah Egner) and Tanner Moss; granddaughter, Claire Bartlett. 

The family will receive friends from 10:30 am to 12 Noon on Monday, October 24, at First Baptist Church of Chattanooga, 401 Gateway Ave., Chattanooga, TN 37402.

Funeral Services for Tommy will follow at 12 pm on Monday at the church with Dr. Thomas Quisenberry and Lea Clower officiating. Burial will be at Chattanooga National Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Caris Healthcare, 5959 Shallowford Road, Suite 551, Chattanooga, TN 37421 or First Baptist Church of Chattanooga. 

Arrangements are by the North Chapel of Chattanooga Funeral Home, Crematory and Florist, 5401 Highway 153, Hixson, TN.

 

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