Thomas (Tom) Lowes Kenworthy

KenworthyThomas (Tom) Lowes Kenworthy, 84, December 28, 2020, at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Ga. Tom was born on April 25, 1936, to Mary and Carroll Kenworthy in Washington, DC. He attended Sidwell Friends School, graduated from Earlham College, and earned a master’s degree (in international economics) from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pa. Tom met his wife, Suzan Treadwell, in 1960 at an American Friends Service Committee work camp in Mexico. They were married in 1962 and lived in Vancouver, Toronto, and New York City before settling permanently in Atlanta in 1967.

Tom was warm, easygoing, and unpretentious. He had a delightful sense of humor. His stories could light up a room, and he could make the most mundane conversation topic seem fascinating.

Tom was a family man in the best sense of the term. He had a happy marriage for 58 years and was beloved by his children and grandchildren. When his children were growing up, Tom was fond of entertaining the family at the dinner table with stories of the latest goings-on in the neighborhood. He attended hundreds of his kids’ practices, soccer matches, swim meets, football games, and basketball games, along with PTA meetings, board and committee meetings, banquets, and more. He assembled and coached a youth soccer team, which included his son Lane, that won several state championships and helped to broaden the sport’s popularity in DeKalb County, Ga. He involved his children in a seemingly endless stream of home and yard projects, from weekly chores to repainting the house to digging out a new storage room under the kitchen. Family vacations were typically spent visiting relatives in Washington D.C., New York, or Arizona. Later in life, Tom and Suzan loved hosting extended family gatherings at their home on Lake Lanier in northern Georgia.

In 1967, after managing sales teams for Colgate and Macmillan Publishing, Tom started a joint venture selling playground equipment to school systems. In 1968, he founded School Media Associates, selling educational audiovisual materials to elementary and secondary schools and colleges. Together with Suzan and later their sons Randy and Owen, Tom grew School Media from a small, home-based business to an office with 20 employees and multiple regional locations. The business thrived for half a century, evolving to meet media industry advances from filmstrips to VHS to DVD to digital, while surviving the economy’s ups and downs. School Media’s affiliates included over 200 producers, such as A&E Video, Discovery Channel, PBS Video, Disney Educational Productions, and National Geographic.

Tom enjoyed traveling across the South and the Midwest through myriad cities and towns. Most of all, he loved engaging in conversation with the customers and other people he met. He could tell you the name of the librarian in a particular high school in any number of small towns, and long after retiring he continued to work at the School Media offices, making phone calls to stay connected with clients.

Tom was a devoted Quaker. He and Suzan were longtime members of Atlanta (Ga.) Meeting. He served as the meeting’s clerk and on a number of its committees, on the central committee of Friends General Conference, and on the board of the Friends School of Atlanta. He enjoyed reading books on Quaker history and philosophy, to complement his regular stack of volumes on history, economics, politics, society, and foreign affairs.

Tom is survived by his wife Suzan; children Lane (Kim), Randy (Ellie), Owen (Marti), and Lauren Jarrell (Jonathan); ten grandchildren; and his brother Lee. He was preceded in death by his parents, Mary and Carroll Kenworthy; brother David; and grandson Noah.

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