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Judge Thomas “Tom” Houston Broome, 57, of Brandon, MS, passed away on Sunday, May 21, 2023, from complications of sepsis. His loving wife and family were by his side. A Celebration of Life service will be held on June 10 beginning at 1 p.m. followed by a reception until 4 p.m. at the Clyde Muse Center, 515 Country Place Parkway, Pearl, MS. A graveside service with Masonic rites will be held on June 9 at 2:30 p.m. at Bay Springs Cemetery in Bay Springs, MS, with Rev. Marshall Jenkins officiating. Ott & Lee Funeral Home in Brandon, MS is handling arrangements.
Tom was born in Jackson, MS, on August 28, 1965, the fourth child of Rufus Houston Broome and Elizabeth “Betty” Dallas Broome. Because his next older sibling in age was nine years older, Tom’s parents considered him a “bonus child”. As a young boy, he would don his cowboy hat and accompany his father (also a judge) to the family farm in Bay Springs. He loved feeding the cows, baling hay, bush hogging, hunting, and doing anything that involved being with his dad or getting dirty. At age 14, his father died unexpectedly, but the qualities embodied by his father--compassion, kindness, fairness, firmness, and a servant’s heart--were passed on to the future, younger Judge Broome.
In school, Tom excelled academically, all while assisting his mother in continuing to manage the family farm. He graduated in 1983 as valedictorian of his Pearl High School class and was an excellent trumpeter in the award-winning Pearl Pirate Band. After high school, he attended Mississippi State University, graduating with highest honors in 1988 with a degree in mechanical engineering. While attending MSU, he worked as a co-op student for Eastman Kodak Company, was inducted into the MSU Hall of Fame, and was recognized as the 1988 Outstanding Graduate Engineer. Additionally, he participated in numerous student leadership organizations and was inducted into several honorary organizations, including Tau Beta Pi, Omicron Delta Kappa, and Phi Kappa Phi. Rarely did Tom, who loved his time at MSU, miss an opportunity to goad his friends and family who were “land shark lovers” with Ole Miss jokes.
After graduating from MSU, Tom worked as a manager in the Government Practice Division of Andersen Consulting. In 1993 he chose to follow in his father’s footsteps and enrolled in Mississippi College School of Law, graduating in 1996. While attending law school, he served on the Law Review, the Moot Court Board, and as a two-term President of the Law School Student Bar Association. He later served as an adjunct professor teaching courses at the law school on constitutional law, professional responsibility, and mental health law. Tom had a brilliant legal mind. He made the case to his former law school classmate, Paula Henderson, that he would make a worthy husband. She accepted his argument, and they were married in 1998.
Following law school, Tom entered private practice with an emphasis on civil and criminal litigation, wills and estates, and real estate matters. He also served as assistant prosecutor for the Town of Florence, MS, and was appointed and subsequently elected County Prosecutor for Rankin County.
Beginning with his first term in 2002, Tom was elected County Court Judge for Rankin County and served for more than 20 years as the primary Youth Court Judge. Among his many leadership roles as a member of the judiciary, he served as chairman of the Mississippi Council of Youth Court Judges for 12 years and as co-chair of the Mississippi Supreme Court's Commission on Children's Justice since its inception in 2006. He was a valued member of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) for 18 years, serving on the Board of Directors and on the Executive Committee as secretary.
Tom founded the Rankin County Juvenile Drug Court in 2006 and started one of the state’s first two family drug court programs in Rankin County in 2010. He established a Safe Babies Court Team for Rankin County in 2015 to provide intensive services to children from birth to age three. He also led the development of a premier youth detention facility for Rankin County. Tom would answer work calls at any hour of the day or night, always striving to be available and make the best decision he could for the children and families involved. He received numerous awards and commendations for his advocacy on behalf of children and families.
Tom, who was a lifelong resident of Rankin County, was a member of McLaurin Heights United Methodist Church, the Pelahatchie Masonic Lodge #276, and various other civic and community organizations. He never met a stranger, never failed to extend kindness to others, and never missed an opportunity to help his friends and family. On the bench, he was a leader among youth court judges, a trailblazer in developing programs and initiatives to improve the lives of children and families, and a steadfast guardian of the well-being of children in his care. He exhibited compassion to all regardless of their status or station in life. Though he wasn’t a father himself, Tom was a father figure and mentor to numerous youths and adults. He was a true public servant.
The family farm was his refuge, and he enjoyed spending time there when he could. He also enjoyed spending time with friends and family. Annually, he was the neighborhood grill master, grilling cases of burgers for the neighborhood block party.
He loved the staff at the detention center and considered them family. Each December he enjoyed hosting a luncheon at the center and delivering his mother’s five flavor pound cakes to numerous county offices. When he wasn’t in his judicial robe at Christmas, he was often dressed as Santa, entertaining the Mississippi State Hospital residents and Rankin County foster children. He was known far and wide for his humor, mischievous smile, and storytelling.
He wasn’t perfect. He never could keep up with his numerous reading glasses and was sometimes forced to wear his court administrator’s brightly colored spectacles while on the bench. He would say he “had a guy” to do various home and vehicle maintenance tasks, but often would procrastinate getting “the guy” to do the work, much to the ire of his loving wife. He was hard headed and stubborn, not taking the advice of his wife, siblings, and staff, who were constantly urging him to attend to his health.
Tom had a big heart and a larger-than-life personality. His legacy of love and compassion for children and others is unmatched and will never be forgotten.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Judge Rufus Houston Broome and Elizabeth Dallas Broome. He is survived by his wife of 24 years, Paula Henderson Broome, and their two fur babies, Niko and Bodhi; his four siblings: Barbara Broome Collier (John) of Brandon, MS; Patricia Broome White (David) of Roswell, GA; Adam H. Broome (Lissa) of Chapel Hill, NC; and Julie Broome Stilley of Loranger, LA. He is also survived by several nieces and a nephew: Sarah Grant, Alex White (Renee), Anna Broome, and Emma Stilley; one great nephew, Ari White; and a former brother-in-law, Kevin Stilley. In addition, he leaves behind many extended family members.
The family thanks the St. Dominic’s Critical Care Unit doctors, nurses, and staff for their tireless efforts in treating Tom, with special thanks to nurse Mary Holly who showed extraordinary compassion and care. Additionally, the family thanks the numerous friends with medical expertise who offered insight to the family on his care.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any charitable donations in remembrance of Tom’s life be made to one of the following organizations or another children’s charity of the donor’s choice: Shannon's Home of Hope, Inc. at P.O. Box 223, Brandon, MS 39043 (601-201-9276), www.shannonshomeofhope.org or Children’s Advocacy Centers of Mississippi at Post Office Box 5348, Jackson, MS 39296 (601-940-6183), https://www.childadvocacyms.org/.