Rome has lost two longtime community leaders this week with the deaths of Tom Medlock and Neil Sanders.
Medlock owned Tom’s Gun Shop in West Rome while Sanders was a fixture at Daniels Funeral Home for nearly 40 years.
Medlock had served as a licensed gun dealer in Rome for more than 50 years.
He started selling guns on a part-time basis while working with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers at Georgia Power’s Plant Bowen and Plant Hammond.
About four years after he started, he made the decision to go full time and had been in the same shopping center at the intersection of Shorter Avenue and Westdale Avenue since 1972.
Floyd County Police Chief Mark Wallace recalled buying his first duty revolver from Medlock when Wallace was 18 years old and had to have his father go with him and sign for the weapon.
“I considered him a friend as much as a source for equipment,” Wallace said. “Over the years all of us have had a good relationship with Tom. Even if we didn’t buy anything we’d stop in out there and just talk with him.”
Wallace said that Medlock was honest almost to a fault.
“I can remember times where his suppliers, one particular incident, where a vendor had sent him something by mistake. Tom called him back and told them he hadn’t ordered it. The salesman told him to just keep it but Tom wouldn’t stand for it and said ‘There’s no way I’m keeping this.’”
Wallace said Medlock’s loss will create a void for a lot of gun owners locally who have never dealt with anyone other than Medlock
Former Floyd County coroner Barry Henderson said you knew you were dealing with an honest man when you dealt with Medlock. “He was a jewel. It was just so much fun to go out there and talk with him,” Henderson said.
Henderson said he will always remember going to Medlock in 2015 to order a pair of Weatherby .30-06 rifles for his sons that were just like one his parents had given to him for Christmas in 1985.
Sanders, who died after a long bout with cancer, grew up in the newsroom at the old Rockmart Journal which was owned by his family. When the family sold the paper to News Publishing Co., the former owners of the Rome News-Tribune, Sanders went to work at Daniel’s Funeral Home where he served local families for over 35 years.
Marvin Richards worked with Sanders for almost 25 of those years. He said Sanders had a passion for his cats, his music and the families he served.
“Neil probably played at every wedding or big event that came about in Rome over the years,” Richard said. “Organ was his favorite, but he could play the piano beautifully.”
Deacon Stuart Neslin at St. Mary’s Catholic Church said Sanders was part of a two-man team at the church, which included Kenneth Moyers, for well over 20 years.
“He had an incredible repertoire. I would bring brides to meet with him and they would hum a few bars of some obscure song they wanted, and he’d go over and just rip it right out,” Neslin said.
Neslin said Sanders played all through his medical treatments, and rarely missed Mass.
“He would knock out a round of chemo and be on his back for a day, but be ready for the weekend and march right in. He made everyone else feel better about the situation,” Neslin said.
Services for Medlock will be held today at 1 p.m. at Pleasant Valley South Baptist Church, while a Memorial Mass for Sanders is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at St. Mary’s Catholic Church.