November 8, 1939 – June 12, 2018
Tom Dalton of Little Rock and Hot Springs, Ark., passed away peacefully in the very early hours on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 after a brave battle with cancer. Tom’s leadership abilities, business acumen, and his compassion for people and the non-profit organizations that serve them were guidestones in Tom’s accomplished life; while his love for family made him a treasured “Da” to his six grandchildren.
A notable executive and entrepreneur, Tom’s business life spanned more than 50 years of success in healthcare, education, technology, and government. A native of Cortland, New York, Tom was recruited to Central Arkansas when he accepted the job of Little Rock’s City Manager, serving our city well from 1986 to 1992. Prior to coming to Little Rock, Tom had distinguished himself as a City Manager for two other communities, Saginaw, Michigan and Oberlin, Ohio.
Directly after graduating from high school, Tom served in the army, stationed in Korea for three years. However, it was after college, upon joining the Peace Corp, when he truly developed his servant’s heart. That heart was put to work during Tom’s tenure during the 1990s as Director at the Arkansas Department of Human Services, where he oversaw the management of the Arkansas Medicaid program and nine operational divisions dealing with the health and human service needs of families, children, and senior citizens. There, he assisted in the development and implementation of the much touted ARKids First program throughout the state, dramatically increasing the number of children eligible for healthcare services through Medicaid funding.
In the last two decades of his life, Tom managed his own consultancy firm, Dalton and Associates, and worked for almost 10 years as Program Director at Winrock International. While with Winrock, Tom led product development teams and connected Winrock to meaningful state and federal contracts that helped this global organization further its mission.
Tom was especially inspired by his work on the Winrock contract with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission’s Innovate Arkansas program. Tom’s entrepreneurial spirit and his desire to provide meaningful mentorship helped enable approximately 100 companies and their owners raise investment funding, grow their organizations and create meaningful new, high-paying jobs for Arkansas. His work with start-up companies across Arkansas was instrumental in laying a strong foundation for Arkansas’s start-up eco-culture.
Tom loved public service, volunteering as a Board Member for numerous Arkansas organizations, among them the CARTI Cancer Center, BioVentures/UAMS, Little Rock Downtown Partnership, and the United Way,
Tom also loved his life with wife Diane on the lake, hiking the many trails in Hot Springs. He was known by those who loved him most as a highly ethical man with a strong commitment to his passions and relationships.
Tom is survived by his wife Diane; his sister, Kathleen Dalton; two daughters, Meghan Dalton and Lael Dalton Sweeney and her husband Matt Sweeney; son, Steve Carlisle and six grandchildren, Max Dalton, Rachel Sweeney, Jackson Sweeney, Jordan Carlisle, Corbin Carlisle Foster, and Cayman Carlisle. He is preceded in death by his parents, Thomas Henry Dalton and Anne Catherine Schedlar Dalton and his brother, John Dalton.
His family and friends will honor his memory in the coming weeks with a celebration of life at an Irish wake. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to The Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches at https://www.youthranches.com to support Tom’s passion for helping underprivileged children.
- The Arkansas Sheriffs' Youth Ranches
July 14, 2018
Tom was one of life’s giants who will be sincerely missed. His contributions on many levels for the betterment of humankind were filled with passion. Our communities will surely miss the vision and tenacity of a Tom Dalton.
I’m thankful to have known him and wish pleasant thoughts of Tom for Diane and the rest of his family.
June 20, 2018
Dear Diane and Family,
I was so very sorry to hear that Tom had passed away. As you may remember I had the great pleasure of knowing and working with Tom for many years at Winrock. I will always consider bringing him onto our team one of my best accomplishments. He was a great friend and colleague who was always willing to share and teach and learn. A rare combination indeed. He never seemed to stop exploring new ideas and approaches to "connecting the dots" in economic development, healthcare and politics and life. Without question I know that he made a difference in the lives of people who never knew him. I will keep you and the family in my prayers. Sincerely David Norman
June 19, 2018
Tom was a friend, mentor, and leader. Tom was as good a person as I have ever worked with in a very long career. He had the unique ability to speak directly even in political circles where straight talk and true intentions are rare. When the Innovate Arkansas program began and shortly thereafter when Tom asked me to be part of it, he took a chance on me that has made all the difference in my life over the past ten years. There is no question that the entrepreneurial scene in Arkansas would not be what it is today were it not for Tom's ability to rally good people together, to empower them, and to get them to do the right thing at the right time. This state and this country owe Tom a deep debt of gratitude for a life well lived, and a life emblematic of a commitment to service above self. I will miss Tom's steady leadership, friendship, and wisdom a great deal.
June 18, 2018
Tom hired me and brought me to Little Rock when he was the City Manager there. I have had the good fortune to work for and with many great public servants. All of those could accomplish that which was needed but Tom was special. Thanks largely to his irreverent sense of humor, he was unique in his ability to draw the very best from those around him while (most of the time) having a great time. He was simply the best boss I ever had and a great friend. I believe I laughed more with him than anyone I've known. I regret that we had lost touch with each other and that I didn't know he was sick. I am deeply sorry for his loss and wish his family the very best in their time of pain.
June 18, 2018
I worked for Tom at DHS in the mid to late 90's and thoroughly admired his skill and his dedication to improving the lot of those less fortunate in our state. He was also just a lot of fun to be around, a jovial Irishman if there ever was one. We had stayed in touch over the last decade, had lunch on occasion. I will really miss him
Joe and Betty Pullam
June 17, 2018
Diane, we were so sorry to read of Tom’s death. It was a shock to us as we were not aware that he had been ill. Please know that you and your family will always be dear to us.
Betty and Joe
June 17, 2018
Tom was a good person and a good friend. I remember the times we worked together with the city of Little Rock as a very positive part of my life. Tom made a difference.
My thoughts and prayers are with the family.
June 15, 2018
It was our privilege to participate in the ARkafication of the Daltons upon Tom's migration from NY by way of Michigan and Ohio. The effort was rewarding as he came to appreciate catfish as a delicacy (not a carp), that he would be safe watching Captain Dynamite perform at Ray Winder Field, and that he could (and did) survive the Gillett Coon Supper. Tom brought the City of Little Rock strong, visionary professional leadership. It was an honor to know him as boss, and as a faithful friend.
June 15, 2018
I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing him, but reading all the wonderful things he accomplished and knowing his beautiful and loving daughter, Meghan, I could only imagine what a great guy he was! My thoughts are with you all!
June 14, 2018
I met Tom in 1985 when he came to the City of Little Rock. He was a larger than life personality who had an excellent grasp of how to get things done. He also understood the weaknesses and strengths of various individuals, and how to develop the best from them. But, there was a great deal more to him that running the operations of a local government. He was interested in so many different issues, and in helping provide opportunities for others. He was well-read. My reading list and the scope of interests expanded exponentially through his influence. In Little Rock, he helped to bring to life the Prevention, Intervention & Treatment programs that have helped hundreds of youth over the years. While the City Board decided to move in this direction, and the people voted for it, Tom was instrumental in making sure that the programs had a foundation and a future. It is still an important part of City programming. My thoughts are with his family; my gratitude is for our friendship. Tom Carpenter, Little Rock, Arkansas.