Obituary- Tommy Milligan

Nov 15th, 2023 | By | Category: News, Obituaries

James Thomas ‘Tommy’ Milligan, age 89, of Vernon, Florida, passed away Tuesday, November 7, 2023 at his home of natural causes, surrounded by friends and family.
Tommy was born on November 2, 1934 in Columbus, Georgia, a graduate of Jordan Vocational High School. Tommy was a supportive and loving husband, father, and successful businessman. As a young meatcutter, Tommy quickly rose through the ranks of area supermarkets until 1966, when with the support of family and friends, he bought a struggling Piggly Wiggly in Baker Village, South Columbus. He quickly transformed the store into a popular and profitable location, and grew his grocery company (JTM Corporation) into what would eventually become one of the largest and longest family held Piggly Wiggly franchise groups in the nation, concentrating his efforts in East Alabama and West Georgia.
As Tommy’s grocery company continued to grow, he diversified his supermarket portfolio to include South Star Foods, U-Bag-lt, and Warehouse Foods branded stores. Tommy’s entrepreneurial drive wasn’t limited to just supermarkets, as he expanded into other industries. Tommy owned and developed shopping centers in Alabama and Georgia, often anchored by his supermarkets. In residential real estate. Tommy spearheaded Phenix City’s first ever condominium development, Bridgestone. Tommy also created Phenix City’s Dixie Dog Showtime, a popular family/teen restaurant destination in the early 1980s.
Civically, Tommy was a member of the Columbus Jaycees. Through Piggly Wiggly, Tommy was alongtime supporter of The Salvation Army, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, March of Dimes, and Muscular Dystrophy Association. Tommy also was a supporter of the Columbus Soap Box Derby, Pop Warner Football, and American Little League baseball. Tommy was a charter member of Green Island Country Club and belonged to the informal group affectionately known as ‘The Hackers’. Tommy was a contributor to the construction of Bibb City’s Godwin Creek par three golf course, designed to introduce kids, seniors and beginners of all backgrounds to the game of golf. Tommy also enjoyed being a silent partner in bringing many concert events to Columbus in the early 1980s.
Tommy semi-retired at 49 years of age in 1983, and after meeting his wife, Martha ‘Sister’ Blackmon (originally from Eufaula, AL) moved to Panama City Beach, Florida. Tommy continued to oversee the growth of his grocery company through his sons in the Columbus, Phenix City, Eufaula, Lanett, Opelika, LaGrange and Thomaston markets. Tommy also enjoyed being involved in other business ventures. In broadcast radio. Tommy’s holdings included stations in the Columbus, Panama City Beach, Dothan, and Los Angeles markets. In 1996, Tommy partnered with several friends to help create Panama City Beach’s Emerald Coast Bank (now part of Trustmark).
As a husband to his loving wife of 36 years, attorney Martha ‘Sister’ Blackmon Milligan, Tommy (who often referred to himself as ‘Mr. Sister’) was a supportive and devoted partner, and enjoyed their life together in Panama City, Panama City Beach and Vernon Florida’s Hilltop Farm, and traveled the world together.
Tommy was preceded in death by his father, Gilbert Milligan, of New Orleans, LA, mother Mollie Pearl Williamson Cyree, of Phenix City, AL, brother Douglas ‘Don’ Cyree, of West Point, GA, and son David Milligan, of Jupiter, FL.
Tommy is survived by his loving wife, Martha ‘Sister’ Blackmon Milligan, of Vernon, FL, sister Betty Holley (Charles) of Senoia, GA, sons Keith Milligan of Columbus, GA, Jimmy Milligan of Eufaula, AL, Gil Milligan (Claire) of Smiths, AL and Michael Milligan (Sherry) of Panama City Beach, FL, daughter Rhonda Chambley (Terry) of Columbus, GA, grandsons Justin Milligan of Phenix City, AL, Drew Milligan (Jamie) of Smiths, AL, Devon Milligan (Stephanie) of Campbellton, FL, Tommy Milligan (Heather) of Columbus, GA, James Christensen (Ashley) of Atlanta, GA, Terry Chambley Jr. (Hope) of Fortson, GA, Bryan Milligan (Candace) of Phenix City, AL, granddaughters Elizabeth Chambley of Columbus, GA, Lauren Mobley (Jeff) of Phenix City, AL and 18 great-grandchildren.
The family received friends on Sunday, November 12th, at First United Methodist Church, 101 East Barbour Street, Eufaula, AL. Funeral services immediately followed at the church. Pallbearers were Justin Milligan, Drew Milligan, Devon Milligan, Tommy Milligan, Bryan Milligan and Leaon Ward. Tommy was laid to rest alongside Martha and Fred Blackmon, and other Blackmon family members in Fairfield Cemetery Addition, in Eufaula. The Scoop sends our warmest condolences to Sister Milligan and the entire Milligan Family.

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