Thomas "Tom" McDonald Eden, Jr. was born in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1927. He graduated from West End High School where he was a member of the Junior Army ROTC program. During World War II, Eden was drafted into the United States Navy and sent to San Diego, California, for Boot Camp. After serving in the Navy, Eden entered the Alabama Polytechnic Institute, now known as Auburn University.
Eden had a distinguished student career and served as President of his Senior class, President of the SGA Senate and head cheerleader as well as being nominated to Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities. He was selected for membership in Phi Kappa Phi National Scholastic Honorary Society and was a member of Spade Honorary, a group of ten outstanding members of the senior class. Eden graduated in 1950 with a Bachelor of Science in Ornamental Horticulture specializing in Landscape Design.
After graduation, Eden was once again called to serve his country as an officer in the Navy during the Korean War. Ultimately, Commander Tom Eden retired with 23 years of active and reserve duty in Naval Air.
In his civilian life, Eden was a teacher in the Auburn University Horticulture Department and taught Landscape Design on the Alabama Educational Television Network for over 13 years on the show “Time to Grow.” In 1968, the Eden family moved to Montgomery where Eden served as Executive Vice President and Lobbyist for the Alabama Textile Manufacturer’s Association. He later returned to Auburn and to his first love of landscaping. In 1984 he started the Garden of Eden landscaping business in Auburn, later turning the reins over to his son, Steve.
Eden and his late wife Carolyn had three children: Tommy, Eve and Steve, and he was the proud grandfather of nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
In addition to coaching a championship Dixie Youth League Baseball team, Eden served as the Scoutmaster of Troop 30 in Auburn. During his five years as Scoutmaster, 53 Scouts benefited from his leadership; 23 of which earned the Eagle Scout designation, the highest honor in scouting. As beneficiaries of Eden’s nurturing influence and leadership, many of these young men went on to be successful professionals and leaders in our community.
Because of his service to our country and community, Commander Thomas Eden is truly one of Auburn’s Distinguished Veterans.
Commander Thomas Eden passed away on May 15, 2017.