By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Friday, December 23, 2016, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) released a statement on the death of former Alabama Commissioner of Labor Tom Surtees.
Gov. Bentley said, “It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the passing of my friend and former Cabinet member Tom Surtees. Alabama lost a leader and dedicated public servant.”
Governor Bentley added. “Tom dedicated a decade to serving the people of this state, through his time as Revenue Commissioner, Director of Industrial Relations and Labor Commissioner. His devotion to Alabama, passion for her people and his friendship will be forever missed.”
Gov. Bentley said on Twitter, “Well done good & faithful servant. Tom Surtees served Alabama well w/ humility & humor. Praying today for his family.”
Surtees became Labor Commissioner in October 1, 2012 when a department merger resulted in his assuming the role of the Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Labor. He had been Director of the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations. Surtees was first appointed by Gov. Bob Riley (R) in 2004 as state Revenue Commissioner. In 2007 Riley appointed him to head the Department of Industrial Relations. Gov. Bentley retained him in that position in 2011.
Surtees also served briefly as Gov. Bentley’s Legislative Liaison and as Bentley’s Education Policy Advisor.
Current Secretary of Labor Fitzgerald Washington said in a statement, “So many in this state are mourning the loss of Tom Surtees. He was a true gentleman, and I was proud to have known him.”
Surtees resigned from the position in July 2014 to take a position in the private sector where he was the operating partner and chief administrative officer at Birmingham’s McKinney Capital.
Surtees is survived by his wife, of 44 years, Cecilia. They have a son, Lee Surtees, and a daughter Lynn Surtees Pruitt and three grandchildren.
Surtees had a Master’s degree in business administration from the University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB) and a Science Degree as well as a diploma from the US Army Command and General Staff College. Surtees served in the US Army Reserve and Alabama National Guard for 27 years, and retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
Surtees was active in a number of charities including Friends of Rickwood, the Alabama State Combined Campaign, a division of the United Way, where he served as Chairman for seven years. More than six million dollars were raised under his leadership. He was also very involved in the Boy Scouts of America, the Boys and Girls Club, and the American Cancer Society.
(Original reporting by Ballotpedia and the Birmingham Business Journal contributed to this report)