Longtime educator Tom Cronan passes away

A "Celebration of Life Service" will be held Sunday for Dr. Thomas Larkin Cronan III, who passed away after battling pancreatic cancer for two years. Dr. Cronan was the husband of Joan Cronan, the women's athletics director for the University of Tennessee.

Tom Cronan, 64, died Friday morning at home, surrounded by family.

Dr. Cronan was a professor emeritus of Exercise Physiology at Carson-Newman College, where he taught for almost 20 years. He retired in 2004 to pursue a new professional goal of helping to develop a unique kind of wellness model for clients (personal and corporate) after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

He is survived by his wife of 40 years, Joan Cowart Cronan, daughters Kristi, and husband Rhett Benner; Stacey, and husband Kent Bristow; grandchildren Quinn and Reese Benner; and Chase and Reed Bristow; sisters and brothers-in-law Jackie and LeRoy Owens; Janice and David Luckett; Joy and Gene Corcoran and brother and sister-in-law Jerry and Jenise Cronan.

Dr. Cronan was preceded in death by his parents, Thomas L. Cronan Jr. and Edna Reidinger Cronan.

A vocal fixture at all Lady Vol competitions, an avid outdoorsman, motorcyclist and lifelong promoter of fitness, Dr. Cronan hiked the 2,160-mile Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine in his late 50s.

In his "Wellness/Attitude/Research (WAR) on cancer, he rode his motorcycle 7,300 miles across the United States to raise awareness of cancer survivorship and the free resources of support and education available at The Wellness Community (TWC) in 22 cities around the country.

One of his stops included an appearance on "Good Morning America" in an interview astride his motorcycle with Robin Roberts. He was a participant at The Wellness Community – East Tennessee, during his battle with cancer.

Dr. Cronan earned a bachelor of science degree from LSU in 1965, majoring in physical education; received his master of education from Northwestern State College of Louisiana in 1968; and was awarded a doctor of education in exercise physiology at the University of Tennessee in 1972.

Dr. Cronan held positions at The Citadel, UT and Maryville College before joining the faculty at Carson-Newman. While at Maryville College, he was the Chair of the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Department, a position he also held while at C-N.

An LSU track & field letterman, he competed in Master's Track & Field and won titles as the national pentathlon champion and runner-up in the decathlon. He was presented the Outstanding Teaching Award from the Citadel; the Distinguished Service Award from the Tennessee Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

He was a Deacon and Sunday School teacher at the Central Baptist Church of Bearden; member and past chair of Baptist Health System Board of Directors of Health Ventures, a member of the Rotary Club of Jefferson City and the Governor's Council on Physical Fitness.

The Celebration of Life Service will be held this Sunday, Aug. 20, at 2 p.m., at the Central Baptist Church of Bearden, 6300 Deane Hill Drive in Knoxville, Tenn.

The family will gather with friends, immediately following the service, in the Fellowship Hall.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials to: Central Baptist Church, 6300 Deane Hill Drive, Knoxville, TN 37919; Wellness Community of Knoxville, 702 Lindsay Place, Knoxville, TN 37919; Carson-Newman College, Cronan Walking Trail, Fite Administration Building, Box 72017, Jefferson City, TN, 37760; or the Tennessee Lady Volunteer Scholarship Fund, 1551 Lake Loudoun Blvd., Level One, Knoxville, TN 37996.

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