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THOMAS E. GIVEN, age 87 of Sidney, passed away Thursday, January 24, 2019 at 1:35 PM at Wilson Health. He was born on March 29, 1931 in Sidney, Ohio, the son of the late Ralph and Mary (Shoffner) Given.
On June 2, 1951 Tom married Marvalene "Mivi" (Sprague) who survives along with two sons, Dale (Mary Shannon) Given of Ft. Myers, FL, and Mick (Vickie) Given of Sidney, one sister, Mary Ann (Robert) Hilty of LaFollette, TN, five grandchildren, Anthony (Carrie) Given, Kelly (Matt) Braun, Brent (Julie) Given, Jacqueline Shaffer, and Leslie Given, two step-grandchildren, Freddie and Emma Whiteley, and 11 great-grandchildren, Dylan, Delaney, Desirae, Taylor, Samantha, Justin, Breanne, Jackson, Charlotte, Kendall and Kherington. He was preceded in death by son, Ralph Joseph Given, sister, Helen Louise Miller, and infant brother, Ralph Francis Given.
A true Horatio Alger story--an apt description of Thomas E. Given and his lifetime of achievements. His perception and entrepreneurship account for a lengthy list of his contributions toward a better community as well as his personal accomplishments. If one charted his life after his 1949 Sidney High School graduation, a graph would show an ascending line, recording success and fulfillment. As a general contractor, he was nationally recognized for his progressiveness and vision. The fact that he started as a laborer with the Ferguson Construction Company and eventually became its owner illustrates his remarkable story. Development of Sidney's industrial parks, many buildings, the YMCA, youth programs and the regional West Ohio Development Council show the fine hand of Mr. Given, his creativity, and his can-do response to challenges to a growing community.
His first experience after high school took him away from the city when he enlisted in the Navy. But after 18 months he was discharged, following the death of his father. He returned to assist his mother and younger sister, a responsibility he shouldered and never relinquished. In 1951 he married Marvalene Sprague, also a Sidney High School graduate. That same year he took a job with the Ferguson Construction Company.
He became active in the local Junior Chamber of Commerce chapter, holding many offices including the presidency. He chaired numerous committees and he was a mainstay in directing the Soap Box Derby, running clinics and helping many youngsters build racers. In 1961 he was one of a group of fathers reorganizing Little League baseball in Sidney, forming the Sidney Amateur Baseball Commission, Inc. (SABCI). This organization exists today, providing boys and girls with the opportunity to play organized baseball.
In the late 60's, 70's and early 80's, Mr. Given focused his attention on three major areas of interest: Ferguson Construction, the Chamber of Commerce and the YMCA. During this period under Mr. Given's guidance, Ferguson experienced tremendous growth, gaining a national reputation as general contractors.
In the private sector, he formed a company to build speculative industrial buildings in Sidney. When he saw a need for industrial park development, he was there with guidance. He not only built the buildings, but was instrumental in finding a restaurateur to start the upscale Fairington restaurant. Mr. Given joined other dedicated workers to fulfill a dream, Sidney's YMCA. As a board member, he helped guide it to a new facility and expansion.
The Chamber of Commerce benefitted from his leadership in many ways, but one of his most important legacies was formation of the West Ohio Development Council (WODC), a branch of the Chamber, and the Community Improvement Corporation (CIC). This agency is responsible for industrial growth throughout west-central Ohio. It attracts and locates foreign and domestic businesses and their satellites to the area.
Even in retirement Mr. Given continued to assist the growth of the area by spearheading several housing developments and expanding local sports complexes.
Funeral Services will be held Tuesday, January 29, 2019 at 11 AM at Sidney First United Methodist Church, 230 E. Poplar St. with Rev. Eileen Hix and Rev. Joe Pumphrey officiating. Burial, with full military honors presented by the US Navy and Sidney American Legion Post 217, will be at Graceland Cemetery in Sidney. The family will receive friends on Monday from 3 to 8 PM at Cromes-Edwards Funeral Home, and on Tuesday from 9:30 AM until the hour of service at the church. A Masonic Service will be held Monday evening at 7:45 PM.
Memorials may be made to Wilson Hospice and Alpha Community Center in memory of Thomas E. Given. Condolences may be expressed to the Given family at the funeral home's website, www.cromesfh.com