BROOKSVILLE — Back when Tom Deen Jr. was president of the Brooksville Kiwanis Club, it wasn't uncommon on weekends to see his lake house in eastern Hernando County filled with fellow Kiwanians. It was all for fun, of course, but there was always a purpose behind the invitation, longtime friend Mark Taylor recalled.
"That's one of the ways Tom got to know you and what kind of person you were," Taylor recalled. "When he said, 'Come on out and put your feet up in Istachatta', that meant you were in good standing with him."
Taylor served more than two decades in the Brooksville Kiwanis Club with Mr. Deen, who died Thursday at 86 after a long illness. Taylor called him a "master motivator" of people, and a man who understood the responsibilities that came with being a leader.
"He put his heart into the organization more than anyone I've ever known," Taylor said. "He loved every part of it."
Mr. Deen served in every elected position in the Brooksville Kiwanis Club and in 1978, was elected governor of the club's Florida district.
"He always had a work force of volunteers," Taylor said of Mr. Deen. "And when you made a promise to do something for the club, he expected you to follow through. People were very loyal to him."
Born in Moultrie Ga., Mr. Deen was raised in Brooksville and graduated from Hernando High School.
After high school, he joined the Marine Corps and served during World War II and the Korean War, where he earned two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts. He retired from the service as a lieutenant colonel in 1966.
It was through his position as vice president of SunTrust Bank that Mr. Deen made connections in the community that would ultimately benefit the Kiwanis Club and other civic groups.
Steve Helm recalled that Mr. Deen, a former Boy Scout scoutmaster, took a keen interest in Hernando youth activities and education. In addition to serving as a founding trustee with Pasco-Hernando Community College, Mr. Keen was instrumental in establishing the Brooksville Kiwanis Foundation, which annually awards scholarships in the name of Mr. Deen's late wife, Betty Jo.
"Tom always liked young people," Helm said. "I think he took it as a personal responsibility to see that they had a good future."
Mr. Keen is survived by daughters Gloria Cardwell of Brooksville, Teresa Massey of McMinnville, Ore., Barbara Wilson of Charlotte, N.C., Donna Deen of Sodus, N.Y., and Beckie Roy of Richmond, Va.; a son, Thomas J. (Jeff) Deen III of Mobile, Ala.; 10 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Funeral services will take place at 10 a.m. today at Brewer Funeral Home, 1190 Broad St., Brooksville, with interment to follow in the Indian Hill Cemetery near Bushnell.
Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or firstname.lastname@example.org.