Former City Commissioner Tom Bagnal dies

Staff report

February 28, 2014

Tom Bagnal, who served on the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners for six years, early Friday morning. He was 87 years old.

Bagnal resigned from the city council in mid-2008, citing job stress and concerns on how it was impacting his health, as well as the loss of his wife of 60 years, Catherine. They had four children, Cathy Rives, Ben Bagnal, Libby Pell, and Leslie Pell, and multiple grandchildren.

At the time, Bagnal said there was no single health condition that was plaguing him, but simply the overall toll serving in the position was taking.

“It’s not an easy decision,” he said when he announced his decision in the summer of 2008. “It took me a good while to make it. My doctor helped me. My physician has recommended for the last two or three years that I consider it.”

He had served on the board for six years as the city’s North Ward representative.

Bagnal was respected by his colleagues, who expressed sadness at his decision to leave the board at that time.

Then-commissioner Todd Harris, who served with Bagnal, said that the Bagnal has reflected a sense of compassion toward average citizens of Mount Airy in his decisions as a commissioner. His desire to please his constituents and his abilities to work toward compromises on difficult issues has “enriched the process” of city government, Harris said.

Jack Loftis, who served as mayor at that time, was also sad to see him leave the post, calling him a “dedicated public servant.”

Bagnal was a native of Winston-Salem who moved to Mount Airy in the 1960s, embarking on a long career of public service. He retired from Renfro Corp., where he served as vice president of human resources. He also served for 24 years as a part-time teacher at Surry Community College. Prior to Renfro, he worked for Quality Mills. He was also an ordained Presbyterian minister, serving as minister of First Presbyterian Church of Mount Airy from 1966 to 1970, as well as multiple other churches.

After resigning from city council, Bagnal continued to serve on the Mount Airy Public Library’s Board of Trustees, which he said was one of his passions. He resigned from the library’s board on Jan. 31, 2011, after serving for 15 years. “The essence of wisdom is knowing when to leave,” Bagnal said at the time of his resignation.

In an article that appeared in the Mount Airy News on Feb. 23, 2011, Bagnal said his life had “admittedly been dominated by books” and he added that he must have at least 500 or more books in his home. He also authored two books,

His funeral will be handled by Moody Funeral Home in Mount Airy. The funeral is scheduled for Monday at the First Presbyterian Church in Mount Airy. His family will receive friends in the church’s Fellowship Hall on Monday from 1:30 until 3 p.m.