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Tom Cronan Honored with New Trail Fund by Friends of the Smokies

tom cronan
Tom Cronan

KODAK, Tn -– Friends of the Smokies has set up a new fund honoring the memory of Tom Cronan, an avid hiker in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Professor Emeritus at Carson-Newman College.

Although Cronan found renewal on the trails in the National Park, he also hiked the entire Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. He inspired many as he forged his path as a teacher, national pentathlon champion, husband, brother, father, grandfather, courageous survivor of cancer, and tireless advocate for health and wellness.

"This new fund would mean a lot to Tom, because of his love of both hiking and Great Smoky Mountains National Park," said Joan Cronan, Tom's widow and the interim athletic director at The University of Tennessee. "It means a lot to the Cronan family, too. We're very touched by all the people who have made this lasting tribute to Tom."

The Tom Cronan Pathfinder Fund forms a major component of Friends of the Smokies' $4 million Trails Forever endowment campaign, which will help finance major trail improvements each year on the park's 800 miles of trails. Contributions to the Trails Forever Endowment, including contributions to the Tom Cronan Pathfinder Fund, are being matched dollar for dollar – up to $2 million – by the Aslan Foundation, which was established by the late Lindsay Young of Knoxville, one of the founders of Friends of the Smokies.

"This project has provided a very meaningful opportunity for all of us to honor Tom's life and spirit," said Ann Furrow, who is co-chairing the campaign for the Tom Cronan Pathfinder Fund, along with fellow Knoxville resident Sherri Lee. "It makes us all feel good to know that this fund will help countless people enjoy the trails of the Smokies for many years to come, whether for fitness or solitude or time with family and friends. I can't think of a better way to honor Tom's memory."

Cash gifts and pledges already total more than $463,000 toward a $500,000 fundraising goal.

Donors to the Tom Cronan Pathfinder Fund have included more than 90 individuals, companies, and foundations from nine different states, providing gifts and pledges ranging in size from $10 to $100,000.

"We are very grateful to Tom Cronan's friends and family for being so generous in honoring his memory and helping protect a resource that Tom enjoyed so much," said Jim Hart, President of Friends of the Smokies. "Tom was known for his positive attitude and a great sense of resolve. We're taking that same approach as we work to secure the final $37,000 to complete the Tom Cronan Pathfinder Fund. The goal's in sight, and with just a few more donations, we will get there."

To donate online or to learn more, go to or, or call Friends of the Smokies at (800) 845-5665.

Friends of the Smokies, an independent, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, helps preserve and protect Great Smoky Mountains National Park by raising funds and public awareness and providing volunteers for needed projects. Since 1993, Friends of the Smokies has raised more than $31 million to help support conservation, education, and other park priorities.

Published June 21, 2011

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