May 12, 1949 - January 24, 2014
Theodore James “T.J.” Day, successful Nevada businessman, community philanthropist, ranch operator, and locomotive and aviation enthusiast, died on Friday January 24 at his home in Reno. He was 64.
Born on May 12, 1949, in Los Angeles to Robert A. Day and Willametta Keck Day, T.J. was beloved by everyone who came in contact with him and was greatly admired as a man of his word and was someone who generously gave of himself to improve the lives of others. Those that knew T.J. knew that he lived his life in accordance with the code of the West and that his word was his bond.
T.J. attended Black-Foxe Military School in Los Angeles and graduated from Robert Louis Stevenson School in Carmel in 1967. He received a bachelor degree in Economics and Business from Linfield College in 1971, a Master of Business Administration from Stanford University in 1973, and a Master of Science in Applied Earth Sciences from Stanford University in 1975.
His family had extensive interests in oil and gas ventures and they left Los Angeles and moved to Nevada in 1967 where they preferred the Nevada way of life.
T.J. and Debbie Cole were married in Portland, Oregon on June 23, 1973. After finishing his graduate work at Stanford, T.J. and Debbie moved to Canada where he was employed by Canadian Superior Oil, Ltd. in Calgary, Alberta. They moved to Reno in 1978 where he joined Preston Hale in business developing industrial and commercial properties. Over the years, T.J. was involved in many large land transactions in northern Nevada including building and later owning the Porsche Building in downtown Reno.
In 1980, T.J. and Debbie purchased the Pitchfork Ranch located on the banks of the Walker River in Mason Valley, Nevada. They spent many special occasions with family and friends on the ranch. T.J. was always at home at the Pitchfork because he placed such importance in the ranching traditions of the West.
He was a director of a private exploration company, Western Exploration and Development, and a director of the W.M. Keck Foundation, as well as the Board of Directors of the Reno Championship Air Races. T.J. sat on the boards of Linfield College, Stevenson School, Nevada Area Council, Boy Scouts of America, the Nevada Taxpayer Association and the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. He served for 25 years as member of the board of directors of NV Energy and its predecessor company Sierra Pacific Resources.
Earlier this month, T.J. was honored by the Nevada Area Council of Boy Scouts as one of four recipients of the Good Scout Award. T.J. was deeply committed to the Boy Scouts and he was instrumental in helping build the new Scout Center in Reno.
T.J. held the special distinction of being appointed by three different Nevada Governors to the Nevada State Athletic Commission. In 2005, Governor Kenny Guinn first appointed him to the five-member panel, in 2008 Governor Jim Gibbons reappointed him, and Governor Brian Sandoval reappointed for a third time in 2011. T.J. was proud of this assignment and considered the work of the Athletic Commission to be vitally important to the State of Nevada.
He was a member of the prestigious Bohemian Club in San Francisco as well as the California Rancheros. Additionally, he was a member of several business and social organizations including the Nevada Development Capital Corporation, Northern Nevada Business Development Council, Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN), Northern Nevada Network, Citizens for Private Enterprise, the City of Reno Roundtable, the Prospectors Club, the Valley Club in Montecito, California, the California Club in Los Angeles, and the University Club in Portland, Oregon.
T.J. was a Charter Member of the University of Nevada, Reno Foundation and he received the University of Nevada “President’s Medal” in 2000 and the Dean’s Award for the UNR Medical School in 2004. He was inducted into the Junior Achievement Hall of Fame in 1991 and was named Republican of the Year in 2008.
An avid bird hunter, T.J. was especially fond of visiting the San Tomas Hunting Club in Falfurrias, Texas. Several times a year he would invite friends to the club and it was here that he would preside as “Chancellor” of the “College of Knowledge”. T.J. was a founding member of the Rolex Riders Motorcycle Club and he was one of the lead planners for the bi-annual North-South luncheon that brought together business leaders from northern and southern Nevada for a day of friendship at Barron Hilton’s Flying M Ranch in Yerington, Nevada.
T.J. was preceded in death by his parents and his brother Lawrence Hook Day. He is survived by his wife Debbie, his brothers Robert A. Day and Matt Day, and his sister Tammis Day.
A reception celebrating T.J.’s life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers and in memory of T.J. Day, contributions can be made to the Nevada Area Council of Boy Scouts of America, 500 Double Eagle Court, Reno, NV 89521.