Dr. Alan Tatum

By | March 2, 2018 8:42 am

Dr. Alan Tatum, 65, owner of Payless Pharmacy, in Sparta, passed away Feb. 28, 2018, at Cookeville Regional Medical Center.

Dr. Tatum was born Aug. 27, 1952, in Chicago, Illinois, to Bill Tatum and Anne Carroll Tatum. His mother preceded him in death.

He attended Proviso East High School, in Chicago, but graduated from Kenton High, in Kenton, Tennessee. He attended the University of Tennessee at Martin and graduated from the University of Tennessee School of Pharmacy, in Memphis, with high honors. While attending pharmacy school, he worked at St. Jude Children’s Hospital as a research technician.

Dr. Tatum graduated in 1977, and, although he loved St. Jude Hospital and had been offered a full-time position there, he decided he did not want to live in Memphis. He had married Joyce Milligan from Kenton, Tennessee, in 1971, and with a growing family, he wanted to get out of the city. Together they started traveling across the state of Tennessee, with Dr. Tatum going on job interviews along the way. When they arrived in Sparta, he knew they were home. He was offered the job of the first full-time pharmacist for the old White County Hospital, which had been bought by HCA Corporation. The hospital moved to its new location, and he took on an additional job as director of the White County Ambulance Service.

In 1979, he was moved to Fulton, Kentucky. He missed the hills of Middle Tennessee and wanted to come “home.” In January 1980, they moved to Cookeville, Tennessee, where he worked at an independent pharmacy located in the old Cookeville Mall. He later took a job at Cookeville Hospital where he was a staff pharmacist. When the opportunity arose, he became the pharmacy manager at Walmart, in Sparta. He worked there for many years until he decided to open his own independent pharmacy.

In December 1993, he opened Payless Family Pharmacy, on Bockman Way. With only two employees and his wife, Joyce, the store grew. As his children got older, they, too worked in the pharmacy, and he taught them well. In May 2012, he built the new pharmacy located on Turntable Road.

Dr. Tatum was a man of many accomplishments. He has been the Pharmacist of the Year, and Payless Pharmacy has been Pharmacy of the Year, in White County, for many years. He was recognized as the Innovative Pharmacist of the Year by the Tennessee State Pharmacy Association, and he served as president of the Upper Cumberland Pharmacy Association for 14 years.

He is a retired adjunct professor from Tennessee Tech University where he taught pharmacology to nursing students. He established the Anne Tatum (named for his mother) Scholarship for White County nursing students at Tennessee Tech. He lobbied in Washington D.C. on behalf of White County residents and pharmacy. His love of the profession and his desire to help people who were sick made him a health care leader.

Outside of the profession of pharmacy, he was also a leader. He served on the Genesis House Board of Directors; served on the WCTE Board of Directors; was featured in the PBS Documentary Crank: Darkness on the Edge of Town, which addressed the Nation’s Drug Problem; served on the White County Health Council; was a member of the Cookeville Jaycees; was a member of the Sparta Rotary Club (where he is a Paul Harris Fellow); served as an elder at the Cookeville Cumberland Presbyterian Church; served on the boards for both the White County and Putnam County animal shelters; and was a member of the Mastersingers, which was dearest to him.

Music was a great love of Dr. Tatum’s. He had sung in many choirs. As a member of the Mastersingers, he had traveled to many places. He had sung in the Notre Dame Cathedral, in Paris, and in Austria, the Czech Republic, France, and Germany. His greatest honor was singing on the beach at Normandy for a D-Day celebration. He was to sing at Carnegie Hall, in May.

His greatest love was for his family: his three children Jeremy Tatum (Jocelyn) from Huntsville, Alabama, Jennifer Cranford (David) from Sparta, and Tiffany Wagner (Jamie) from Memphis; and his beloved grandchildren: Jonathan Cranford, Drake, Gavin, and Lily Tatum, James (J.J.) and Jacob Wagner. He considered all of them as his greatest accomplishment. His other “borrowed kids:” Mary, Ami, Will, Hannah M, Hannah T., Jason, Chase, Phil, Brian Y., Chad, Tommy, Stepfon, Mariah, Michelle, Justin, Katie, Richie, Dan, Randy, and many others. He loved them all.

His love for Joyce, his wife, was boundless. Seldom would he be out without her by his side. They traveled all over the world  together and worked side by side on many service projects. They have worked on Indian reservations in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and North Carolina. Their latest service project was after the wildfires in Sevierville and Gatlinburg. Dr. Tatum also did mission work in Brazil and Miami, Florida, as well as prisons in Mississippi and Illinois, and provided medical supplies for hurricane relief efforts, in Puerto Rico.

He leaves behind his father, Bill Tatum; brothers Brian (Chicago), Billy (Martin); sisters, Mary Anne (Cookeville), Audrey and Andrea (Martin); and a host of nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be 3 p.m., March 3, 2018, at Sparta First United Methodist Church. The family will receive friends 2-7 p.m., March 2, at the church, and 2-3 p.m., March 3, at the church. Dr. Perryn Rice will officiate, with support from Dr. Charles McCaskey and the Rev. Ken Wallace. Special music will be presented by the Mastersingers.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to WCTE, in Cookeville, and the Rotary Club of Sparta, via Hunter Funeral Home, P.O. Box 90, Sparta, Tennessee 38583.

Cremation and memorial services are entrusted to Hunter Funeral Home.


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