Former Thorsby mayor passes away

Published 6:11 pm Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A former mayor of the town of Thorsby passed away Tuesday at the age of 68.

Samuel Thomas Bentley Jr., known to many as “Tom,” died at his home in Thorsby.

“I think anyone who knew Tom knew that he was passionate about the town of Thorsby,” current Thorsby Mayor Jean Nelson said. “He was a good leader. He was a smart man, and he did a lot of good for this town.”

Bentley was elected to serve the town as mayor in 2000 and served two terms (eight years).

Ed Prady, served as Thorsby’s Police Chief during Bentley’s time as mayor and remembered Bentley’s dedication to his job.

“He stood his ground on any decision,” Prady said. “That meant if he was for something, he would work until it was accomplished. One of the things he was most instrumental for in Thorsby was establishing the crossing guards at the railroad crossing. He worked so hard on that.”

Prady said Bentley also had the ability to stay “in-tune” with anything going on in the town.

“He always knew what was happening within the town,” Prady said. “There are a lot of mayors in larger towns who don’t always know what is going on in the city they work for, but Tom knew everything. In a small place like this, it is good for you to keep track of what is going on, and Tom was always aware of everything.”

Jemison Mayor Eddie Reed remembered Bentley fondly on Wednesday, recalling times when Reed and Bentley served as mayor for Jemison and Thorsby, respectively.

“We worked alongside one another, and he was a wonderful mayor to work with,” Reed said. “Our two cities worked together, and he was always cooperative with us. Any time we had something we needed to talk to him about, he would listen.”

Reed said one of Bentley’s strongest characteristics as a mayor was that he never pushed an issue to the side.

“If someone had something they had a problem with, he would listen to them and work to get that issue resolved,” Reed said. “He always had the best interest of Thorsby at heart, and he will be missed.”

Nelson said while Bentley was a stern man, he was also gentle and loved his family.

“He adored his grandchildren,” Nelson said.

In addition to his time as mayor, Bentley was an avid farmer, growing both peaches and sweet potatoes.

Julie Adams remembered Bentley’s “strong” work ethic which stemmed from working as a farmer.

“I think because of the way he was raised, he thought you were supposed to work seven days a week,” Adams said. “He worked from daylight to dark.”

Adams said Bentley adapted a sweet potato harvester machine to harvest sweet potatoes out of the ground, instead of manually pulling them.

“He was a wonderful farmer,” Adams said. “He had a very strong work ethic and worked hard at whatever he did.”

Bentley is survived by his son, Clay Bentley (Julie) of Thorsby; grandchildren, Brooks Bentley, Anna Bell Bentley, Abby Ross Bentley; mother, Bess Bentley of Thorsby; sister, Becky Gallups of Gulf Shores; nephews, Stacy Finley (Kelly), Shane Finley (Tina); niece, Susan Anderson (J.R.) and a host of other family and friends.

Funeral arrangements for Bentley include a viewing from 5-7 p.m. Jan. 15 at Martin Funeral Home and funeral services at Jan. 16 at 11 a.m. at Thorsby First Baptist Church with the Rev. Marc Hodges and the Rev. Vaughn McQueen officiating.