One of Chattanooga's leading developers, T.A. "Tommy" Lupton Jr., died Monday. He was 79.
As president of the Stone Fort Land Co. for nearly 45 years, Mr. Lupton built more than 4 million square feet of offices, warehouses, subdivisions and industrial plants in Chattanooga. His residential and commercial projects spanned more than 1,500 acres.
"He helped shape Chattanooga," said C.A. "Red" Parks, a general contractor with T.U. Parks Construction Co. who built the Krystal, Tallan and other office buildings for Mr. Lupton's firm. "He was a client of mine and a hunting partner for 35 years. But more than that he was a close friend and a great man."
Mr. Lupton took over the Stone Fort Land Co. at the age of 25 from his father, Allen, in 1954. The real estate company dates back to 1886 when ancestors of Mr. Lupton and others bought the old Stone Fort limestone quarry from which much of Chattanooga was built.
Under Mr. Lupton's leadership, Stone Fort developed a farm formerly owned by J. Frank Harrison during the 1950s and 1960s into what is now the northern part of Amnicola Highway. On the other side of the Tennessee River, he developed Heritage Landing during the 1980s into one of the largest residential developments in North Chattanooga.
In 1999, Mr. Lupton sold the Stone Fort Land Co. to Bob Corker, who went on to become Chattanooga's mayor two years later and now is one of Tennessee's U.S. senators.
"Tommy was a true lion for our community and had a huge impact on me," a tearful Sen. Corker, R-Tenn., said Monday. "Through the years, there were many times when I called upon Tommy for advice, and he was always even keeled, honest and very helpful."
Buying Stone Fort Land Co. "was a truly incredible experience for me and a great honor to take over a company that Tommy had so successfully led for many years," Mr. Corker said.
Arrangements will be announced by Heritage Funeral Home in East Brainerd.