|Appalachian School of Law Shootings|
Fri, 18 Jan 2002
Calvin R. Trice
The wife of law professor Thomas F. Blackwell described her husband as generous, loving and firmly grounded in his Christian faith.
Blackwell, 41, was one of three people killed in a shooting rampage at Appalachian School of Law on Wednesday afternoon. The school’s dean, L. Anthony Sutin, 42, and first-year student Angela Dales, 33, also were killed.
A member of Blackwell’s church said she was on the phone with him during the gunfire.
Charlotte Varney, the church secretary, said Blackwell was on the search committee for a pastor of the 130-member Buchanan First Presbyterian Church.
About 1:15 p.m., Blackwell returned a call that Varney made earlier that day. The two spoke for several minutes before the conversation ended abruptly with what Varney described as a “loud, muted pop noise.”
“The telephone apparently just fell to the floor, and I could hear running and people’s voices in the background,” Varney said. “I didn’t know what it was until I got a call here about a half-hour later about it.”
Blackwell’s wife, Lisa, a librarian at Appalachian School of Law, detailed in a statement yesterday her husband’s love of music and running. He played trumpet, trombone, piano and flute and sang in the choir of Buchanan First Presbyterian Church.
Blackwell was an active church member and a man of abiding faith, his wife said.
“Tom Blackwell - my best friend, life companion and husband - was a very generous and loving man to his children, his wife, his friends, family and work companions,” she said in a statement read by a family friend.
Besides his wife, Blackwell is survived by three children - sons Zeb, 14, and Zeke, 10, and daughter Jillian, 12.
Blackwell, a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington, earned his law degree with high honors from Duke University in 1986. He practiced law for 10 years, his wife said. Blackwell was a law professor for five years.
Student Jason Kincer, who took a legal-writing course with Blackwell, said, “He was very entrenched in serving the community and building relationships between the school and the community.”
CORRECTION-DATE: January 22, 2002 Tuesday
Charlotte Varney, the secretary of Buchanan First Presbyterian Church, is not a member of the church. Articles about the shooting at the Appalachian School of Law, which appeared Friday and Sunday, indicated she was.