By Alyson L. Taylor-White
Poor Man’s Philanthropist - the Thomas Cannon Story, by Sandra Waugaman with Thomas Cannon, 2004, Palari Publishing, $23.95, 249 pp.


Everyone should have a man like Thomas Cannon as a friend, neighbor, and overall community asset.  A retired postal worker, Tom Cannon made his name in the local papers a when he began writing $1,000 checks for those more needy than himself.  There were times when some wondered if he was sacrificing funds he could not spare.  His late wife Princetta was still living then, and was a bedridden invalid.  At the time, their living conditions were less than favorable. Caring for his wife was a full time job, but instead of feeling pity for himself, he found compassion for others less fortunate.  As he explained in his recent biography, “Themoney is really a
At his recent book signing at the Valentine Richmond History Center, History Center Deputy Director Suzanne Savery (l) and Thomas Cannon (r) displayed some of his handiwork.  Not only is the retired postal worker a philanthropist, he is also an accomplished artist in many media.
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symbol of caring and concern.  Nobody is going to get rich from $1,000.  The money is useful, but the more important thing is that somebody thinks so much of you that they give you a gift.”
 We met this wonderful artist and social activist some time ago through a mutual acquaintance, Joseph Epps of Chase City.  Joe, another enthusiastic and exuberant soul, met Tom through a mutual interest of theirs:  Thyne Institute.  Thyne was a school founded for newly emancipated blacks after the Civil War by northern Presbyterians.  Joe had siblings who attended Thyne before it closed in the 1950s.  Tom Cannon also attended there as a child.  At the time Joe and Tom met, Joe was very active in promoting the Thyne Institute Memorial, a facility to be built on the site of the former school.  Tom read about their efforts to raise money, and he donated one of his famous $1,000 checks.  Thank heavens Tom and Joe met, because they have become the closest of friends
Tom Cannon (l) with his biographer Sandra Waugaman (r) took a moment to share in a snapshot with Tom’s good friend from Chase City, Joe Epps (c).  
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