Thomas Williams Carson of Decatur, 57, died Monday, May 6, 2013, at Baptist Medical Center. Services were 11 a.m. Friday, May 10, 2013, in the sanctuary of Clark-Venable Baptist Church in Decatur, where he was a member. Interment followed at Decatur Cemetery. The Rev. Mark Vincent officiated. Milling Funeral Home of Union was in charge of arrangements.

The son of a U.S. diplomat, Tom was born in Porto Alegre, Brazil and later lived in Mexico, Spain and Italy. A 1973 graduate of Forrest Sherman High School in Naples, Italy he continued his education at East Central Junior College in Decatur, where he received his associate's degree, was inducted into the Hall of Fame, and met his wife. He then attended Delta State University and received his bachelors and masters in music education.

After graduation, he and Brenda worked at Parklane Academy for four years after which they both accepted positions at East Central Junior College. Returning to ECJC was like coming home for the Carsons; both attended the school and fell in love while students there. In his first year at EC, Tom was Director of Bands with only 17 band members. He was a two-time secretary, vice president, and president of the Mississippi Community and Junior College Band Directors' Association.

His past honors include ECCC Instructor of the Year, Lamplighter Participant, HEADWAE Instructor of the Year, and Humanities Instructor of the Year. In April 2013, he was honored as Delta State University's Music Alumnus of the Year. Throughout his career, he saw the band program reach over 180 students.

Tom wore many hats at East Central including director of the Wall O' Sound marching band, director of the Collegians, director of the jazz band, Spanish teacher, and Fine Arts Chair. Beside his love of music, his favorite part of being a band director was interaction with students. Carson loved students and accepted them for who they were. He believed that everyone had potential for great things in their own way. He met them where they were and gave them encouragement and sometimes a push when they needed it.

Besides his work at East Central, Tom was active in the community and his church, and served a year as interim music director at Clarke-Venable. He retired from East Central in June 2012 due to his continuing battle with esophageal cancer, but he returned part-time in October 2012 as director of the Collegians.

Throughout his lifetime, his wit, humor and smile served him well, even in times of pain and hurt. His personality was a shining light for everyone that came in contact with him. Most importantly, he loved his family very much and was proud of all of the accomplishments of his wife and children while enjoying his newest title of "Granddaddy."

Survivors include his loving wife of 35 years, Brenda Branning Carson; children, Christopher Carson and his wife Wendy and their daughters Isabella and Fiona, Jennifer Carson and her fiancé Grayson Timidaiski and Jeremy Carson; brother, Charles Carson and his wife Marsha; brothers, James Winston Carson and his wife Penny and Peter; three nephews and two nieces; brother-in-law, Keith Branning and his wife Carol; and mother-in-law, Frances Branning.

He is preceded in death by his parents, Charles and Corinth Carson.

The family thanks Drs. Phillip Ley, Grace Shumaker, Mike McMullan, Margaret Wadsworth, and the staff of Mississippi Baptist Health Systems for their loving care of Tom throughout his illness.

Memorials may be made to Clarke-Venable Baptist Church, the East Central Community College Foundation, or to any organization that promotes cancer awareness