MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Former Alabama Revenue Commissioner and Labor Commissioner Tom Surtees has died, according to a statement released by the Department of Labor. Surtees, 66, passed away Friday following a long battle with cancer.
Surtees served in both the Riley and Bentley administrations. He was appointed Revenue Commissioner in 2004 by Gov. Bob Riley. He then served as Director of the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations starting in 2007 before being reappointed to the position by Gov. Robert Bentley in 2010.
"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 said. "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."
Surtees oversaw the merger of two state agencies, the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations and the Alabama Department of Labor, into a new, singular agency called the Alabama Department of Labor in 2012. His title changed to Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Labor following the merger. He retired from state service in July of 2014.
Surtees devoted much of his time to charitable organizations including the Alabama State Combined Campaign, a division of the United Way, where he served as Chairman for seven years. More than $6 million 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.
An avid baseball fan, and lover of all things regarding the history of baseball, Surtees was a member of the Friends of Rickwood, America's Oldest Ballpark (located in Birmingham), and played for many years in its annual Rickwood volunteers game.
"So many in this state are mourning the loss of Tom Surtees," said Fitzgerald Washington, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Labor. "He was a true gentleman, and I was proud to have known him."
Surtees was a University of Alabama graduate and veteran. He served in both the Alabama Army National Guard and the Army Reserves before retiring in 1997 at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
He is survived by his wife of 44 years, Cecilia Woods Surtees, son Lee Surtees and wife Krista, daughter Lynn Surtees Pruitt and husband Scott, and grandchildren Ward and Kate Surtees and John Thomas Surtees Pruitt.
Funeral arrangements have not yet been finalized.