Tom & Wanda Scott

Tom & Wanda Scott
(written by Tom Scott and edited by Paula Bean)

Tom & Wanda

Tom & Wanda Scott

Tom Scott is a native Chattanoogan and was raised in the Highland Park area, attended McCallie School, and graduated from Ben Lippen School, a Christian school in Asheville, North Carolina. Tom attended the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, got sick and had to return home before finishing his education there. “I got a job for the City of Chattanooga, Department of Public Works, Engineering Division, in 1960 as a senior draftsman, and every time I considered returning to UT, I would get a promotion and a raise at work,” says Tom. “That made it difficult to leave a job and return to school.”

After being a senior draftsman for the City, Tom was promoted to head of Public and Private Development, then head of Engineering, and Tom finished his career as head of Stormwater Management.

“Before retiring in 1998 the stormwater program was in full compliance with the federal rule to reduce pollution in stormwater runoff by using and practicing best management practices,” says Tom. “The program, in many ways, set the standard for compliance and won many engineering, state and federal awards.

“I worked as a consultant after I retired and I guess the most fun was when I was hired by an engineering firm in Atlanta to travel to the Army base at Fort Campbell, Kentucky where our troops deployed to Iraq the first time. Because the stormwater program in Chattanooga was in compliance, they hired me to repair the damage all their construction projects had discharged to the creeks (water of the U.S.). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was on their backs. When EPA sends a Notice of Violation (NOV), it goes to the one in charge in Chattanooga, it was the mayor; in the Army it was the Commanding Officer. My job was to fix the problems with the EPA.

“I set up a program for them of red-yellow-green for all projects. Green meant the project was in compliance. Yellow meant there were violations that could be corrected, and red meant they were in violation. They are still using the program and the base commander liked it so well, all training is using this set up.”

Photo of Tom & Wanda when they were dating.

Photo of Tom & Wanda when they were dating.

As kids, Tom and Wanda lived two blocks apart and attended the same church. Wanda was younger than Tom and didn’t get his attention until the summer Wanda was 15 years old. “She and a girl friend were sitting at Parker’s Drug Store soda fountain, so I asked her out,” says Tom. “We started dating and the rest — as the old saying goes — is history. We married after she graduated from City High School. We have one son, Steve. We raised Emily, our granddaughter, who is now married to her husband, James. They have a two-year-old daughter, Ansleigh. Emily, James and Ansleigh live with us.”

Tom has been a hobbyist all his life, and in 1959, Wanda gave Tom a Christmas gift … a Sunset book on bonsai. “That started something I’m still doing today,” says Tom. “I don’ think Wanda minds the hobby because we have traveled to conventions all over the United States. During our travels, we have had a state room on the Queen Mary at Long Beach; we sat on the Capitol lawn and watched fire works on July 4, 1976 in Washington, D.C.; we’ve eaten salmon cooked by Indian natives on an island on Puget Sound at a convention in Seattle, Washington; and we enjoyed Palm Springs, California, where I was one of seven masters on the convention program.

One of Tom's bonsai trees.

One of Tom’s bonsai trees.

“I have judged many shows in numerous states and taught many classes and workshops. I was asked to join the California Bonsai Society, which is an invitational club of experts and I served 12 years on the Board of Directors of the National Bonsai Foundation at the U.S. Arboretum in Washington, D.C. I’m still active in our local club where I still do most all of the demonstrations in creating bonsai.”

Tom’s other hobby is woodworking. “This hobby started when I was making my own tables to display my bonsai at shows,” says Tom. “A friend told me I should make some tables and get a booth in Atlanta, where a national bonsai convention was being held. I’ve been making them and shipping them all over the United States and a couple of foreign countries, now for 47 years. I don’t advertise – it’s just word of mouth. I have been signing them and people tell me that they are prized by many all over, especially in California.”

One of the beautiful projects Tom has made.

One of the beautiful projects Tom has made.

Tom is not the only one in the family with a hobby. “I enjoy reading and crocheting,” says Wanda. “I also have a collection of rabbit figurines. I do like Peter Rabbit – but I want my rabbits natural, not dressed in blue jackets!”

Tom and Wanda have been involved in church activities all their lives. Both became believers at a young age. “We were raised in the Highland Park Baptist Church,” says Tom. “We left that church when we moved to a new area of the city. Every time we moved to a new house, in a different area, we moved our membership to a local church.

“We both have taught many different Sunday School classes. During my summers in high school I was a counselor at Camp Joy for two years. I have taught primaries, juniors, teens, adults, and senior men.”

Wanda taught the adult couples class. “I can’t remember not being in church or not knowing about Jesus,” says Wanda. “When I was 13 years old I accepted Christ as my Saviour. I’ve been prone to wander over the years, but the Lord always pulls me back. I need church to worship, Bible Study for growth and fellowship.”

Wanda’s favorite Bible verse is Psalm 27:1 A Psalm of David. The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? Her favorite hymn is ‘How Marvelous, How Wonderful’ (Which I sing beautifully in the shower,” laughs Wanda).

Tom has been a treasurer and deacon in several Baptist churches and was head of the deacon board in their last church, which was a Cumberland Presbyterian Church. They moved to the Red Bank area but could not find a church there. Every church they visited, no one spoke to them until they visited the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

“Several men that I had worked with attended there and we were welcomed right away,” says Tom. “I think one of the most interesting things I did there, for 12 of the 20 years we were there, was to organize and plan a work mission trip to the backwoods of Kentucky. Wanda was on the Session and also Clerk of the Session.

“After much prayer, when we were not receiving a blessing any longer, we left there and I started trying to find another church,” says Tom. “And, the Lord led us to the Middle Cross Baptist Church, where we felt welcomed from the very first visit. We are home again … where we started in a Baptist church.”

“I’m so glad the Lord led Tom and I to Middle Cross,” says Wanda. “I love my pastor and all my new friends.”