Tamela Danette Brogdon
In Our Lives from March 3rd 1963 to May 1st 2023
In Our Hearts Forever
The service is Wednesday, May 24th, 2023 at 11:00 a.m. ET, and is a graveside service.
The location is Ponte Vedra Valley Cemetery and Funeral Home: 4750 Palm Valley Road, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, 32082, (904) 285-1130
Following the service, you're invited to join us for lunch at Tam's favorite restaurant. Both locations are outdoor; coastal - casual attire is suggested to allow for comfort.
A miracle happened on March 3rd, 1963, at 11:32 in the morning, in Blountstown Florida, a small rural town in North Florida. Tam Brogdon was born! She began her life with a short stay in the hospital with a broken arm. That was the first of many obstacles that she overcame throughout her life.
She was a self-assured child from an early age with a clear idea of what she wanted to do and who she wanted to become. Her dream of flying began when she was about a year old, while she sat in her Dad’s lap as he piloted planes. At the age of 16, Tam began flying and continued her training through her college career at Auburn University. “War Eagle”. Being appointed to a leadership role in a traditional male club in high school prepared her to carry out an elected position as President of the typical male Aviation Fraternity Alpha Eta Rho at Auburn. Also, being nonbiased, Tam held an appointed Alpha Xi Delta Sorority position at Auburn as well. A true Auburn fan in every sense of the word. Every game day she and her dog Tango wore the orange and blue colors whether she was at the stadium or watching on television. That was a distinguishing trait for Tam, anything she did was with full commitment. Her beliefs and values were strongly held, and she was always open to sharing them, never wavering. She truly invested in anything she did, for example, supporting President Trump from the early days, to continuing to have a Trump sticker on her bumper today, being a vocal advocate for the Tennessee Walking Horse, to loving the Lord and serving Him in various capacities. She worked at the food bank and served the homeless and underprivileged children.
Tam was one of those people who was admired without being envied. She was humble and never boastful even though she achieved major accomplishments in which women had not previously been successful. She was selected from a field 3500 male candidates and 6 female candidates, applying for pilot training in the Air Force. Successfully completing the training program, she graduated with commendations for successfully maneuvering the aircraft as pilot in command while another plane was endangering her aircraft. Continuing her career in the Air Force she was assigned to the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, “Hurricane Hunters”, at Keesler Air Force Base, in Biloxi, Mississippi. Tam flew many missions into the eye of hurricanes successfully and was awarded the position of Captain on the “Hurricane Hunters” Crew, becoming the first female in history to be appointed Captain of this Squadron. Major networks attempted to interview her, but she declined and also failed to make her parents aware of this prestigious accomplishment until a mutual friend disclosed the news.
Transitioning from the Air Force, Tam became a pilot for American Airlines. She primarily flew the International Routes on the 727. After a few years of flying with American, she made Captain and maintained this role until it was medically necessary to go on temporary leave. Tam began battling breast cancer 22 years ago. Her first five years were successful, and she was ready to return to her flight status when she developed a recurrence of breast cancer. This led to another delay in being eligible to return to pilot duty. Several other recurrences finally made her dream of flying impossible. She was unable to pass the necessary physical requirements and had to abandon her dream of flying.
Tam took this opportunity to pursue other interests which included designing and building homes. Another interest continuing from juvenile years was showing Tennessee Walking Horses, so she decided to return to the show ring. She successfully worked her way back into the saddle with Ritz Rattle and Roll, Facetime, Dollars and Sense, and Stan the Man. Deciding she wanted to try her hand with Amateur/Owned training, she bought her own chain cart and all the paraphernalia that goes with the responsibility of training your own horse. She did well tackling this job and earned a Reserve World Championship in the Amateur Owned and Trained Class at the Celebration. But the joy and thrill of her life was her beloved Boure. Admired as a 2-year-old, she followed every footstep he took and was his most enthusiastic supporter. After her Dad, Ben, made a long search for a gray horse for Tam, and was unsuccessful in finding another “Boure” he approached the Lackeys and Dick Peoples about purchasing her dream horse. The rest is history. Tam and Boure were made for each other. They were a team that was a crowd favorite and the two of them loved every step they made. Being voted horse of the year in every category several times and winning World Championships and World Grand Championships were wonderful, but the fun they had was even better.
There was an adventurous side of Tam that she shared with close friends and family. Whether it was traveling in third world countries, skiing in foreign remote areas, floating her motorhome over flooded terrains traveling through Mexico on her way to the Baja peninsula, hunting in Argentina with her Dad, or flying into hurricanes, she always had a good time. Looking at the bright side of things was a gift that came naturally. She embraced every turn optimistically. She went to treatment for Leukemia in Texas, after being told there was a small chance of survival, with a new wardrobe to wear when she began outpatient care. During the hospitalization, she also bought beach property and drew up house plans for a beach house she intended to build as soon as she finished treatment.
Health Issues became very serious for Tam over the past few months and just as she was diagnosed in January of this year, as being in remission of breast cancer, she was also diagnosed with Therapy Based Leukemia. This type of Leukemia is caused by the medication that treated the breast cancer. It was a quick and cruel progression. Tam fought as diligently as she always has, but unfortunately, the disease won this battle. Tam is at peace but never for a moment did she give up.
Our lives will all be different without Tam, but our lives will always be better because of her. She will be missed by all who knew and loved her. Especially her Mom.
Family Members Who Will Forever Miss Tam’s Loving Presence and Generous Spirit
Her Adoring Mother, Lynda Brogdon
Her Sister, Donda Combs and her Husband, David
Her Niece, Channing Trainor
Her Nephew, Brogdon Combs
Her Uncles: Joel Smith, Kenneth Smith, and Ellis Brogdon