PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Joseph Tannehill, Sr., was a career man who made time for his family.
Joseph Tannehill, Jr. recalled that his dad was dedicated to his work and traveled a lot, “But on Friday nights, when I had little league games, he would find a way to be there.”
“He would find a way to be a dad, and a husband to my mom,” he added.
Tannehill, Sr., longtime local businessman and community leader, died Sunday at age 87. Tannehill, Sr., lived his life by four pillars: faith, family, work, and community, Tannehill, Jr., said.
“He lived a full, full life,” he added.
Tannehill, Sr., grew up in the midwest. He attended high school in Arkansas where he met his late wife, Patricia. Tannehill, Sr., studied engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology and graduated in 1951.
In 1974, Tannehill, Sr., took a job as a plant manager for General Atomic, moving his family to Lynn Haven, Fla. He then moved back to the midwest for work to serve as the president of the Stock Equipment Company in Ohio. Looking to expand, Tannehill, Sr., suggested building a second factory location for the Stock Equipment Company in Lynn Haven, a place he knew had great workers and lots of potential. In 1978, Tannehill, Sr., made his return to Bay County.
Thirteen years later, Tannehill, Sr., bought Merrick Industries from Stock and became his own boss for the first time.
After buying Merrick, Tannehill, Sr., became increasingly involved in the community. He was dedicated to attracting new business to create opportunies for locals so they didn’t have to leave home to find good jobs.
Tannehill, Sr., served as the chairman of the Bay County Chamber of Commerce. “I owe my career to that man,” said Carol Roberts. “He was the one who promoted me to serve as president [of the Bay County Chamber of Commerce],” she added.
“He was a visionary,” she went on. “He saw what Bay County could be and led our county to the successes we are seeing today.”
Tannehill, Sr., also served as the chairman of the Airport Authority where he spearheaded the relocation of the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport, and as the chairman of the Panama City Port Authority. During this time, he worked alongside Rayford Lloyd, who retired last year. “He was a great friend and a real gentleman,” said Lloyd.
The pair worked to recruit current Panama City Port Authority executive director Wayne Stubbs, in 2001. “He had faith in me and that meant a lot to me,” said Stubbs.
Stubbs paid tribute to Tannehill, Sr.’s, determiniation to acheive whatever goals that he embraced. “He willed things into happening,” Stubbs added.
Aside from his political work, Tannehill, Sr., has participated in countless charities, which he always kept realtively quiet about. “He didn’t want accolades or attention,” said Tannehill, Jr. Nevertheless, in 2012 the Panama City Rotary Club awarded awarded him the Paul Harris Felllow award for his outstanding philanthropic contributions and in 1997 the Bay County Chamber of Commerce awarded him the Lauren Merriam Memorial Award for his accomplishments in the community. He was also an officer in the Army Reserves and served on the board of the Military Affaris Commission.
“I appreciate the example he set, that he lived,” said Tannehill, Jr. “Being kind and humble yet being determined and honest and tough.”
Due to the unprecendented circumstances presented by the coronavirus, the family has not yet made any funeral or memorial service arrangements.
“Because of COVID-19,” said Roberts, “it’s a shame that we are not able to celebrate individuals such as Joe Tannehill.”
Tannehill, Sr., is survived by his wife, Ann Fleming Tannehill; children, Jane Tannehill Perry and husband, Scott, of Panama City, Margaret Tannehill Thibodeau and husband, John, of Cape Elizabeth, Maine, Mary Tannehill Millett and husband, Richard, of Panama City, and Joe Tannehill Jr. and wife, Deirdre, of Panama City; and 10 grandchildren.
“We miss him already,” said Tannehill, Jr.