Thomas (Tom) Embry Van Houten, Jr, 93 of Decatur passed away on Sunday, October 9, 2016. He was born in Newnan, GA on St Patrick's Day, March 17, 1923. He always loved the fact that his birthday was celebrated every year by so many people--much as he celebrated life itself--with humor, joy, and generosity (though he preferred red wine to green beer). After graduating from Newnan High School, he moved to Atlanta where he attended Draughn Business School then worked as a clerk at Swift Packing Company. During this time, he took night courses at Georgia Tech, went on to Georgia State (at that time it was a junior college and a part of University of Georgia). He left there to attend University of Georgia in Athens and finally ended up getting a degree from the Law School at Emory University where he was elected Class President his senior year (1948). When he met the love of his life, Olive Elizabeth (Betty) Cole, the fact that she had a date did not discourage him. He said she was the most beautiful, vivacious, fun woman he'd ever met. They got married on September 1, 1948 and he went back to school to get his Certified Public Accounting degree. Soon after this, he opened his own CPA firm, Aronin, Van Houten and Bell. One of his clients was the actress, Susan Hayward. Every time she visited his office in downtown Atlanta all the secretaries would follow her whenever she went to the bathroom. Susan wanted dad to move to Hollywood and set up practice there but he and mother preferred to remain in Atlanta.
In 1973, he was hired by Scott Hudgens to be Scott Hudgens Company's full-time tax attorney/CPA. He and Scott worked together from that time until Scott's death in 2000 building numerous shopping centers and regional malls, finishing with the Mall of Georgia.
When dad wasn't at the office, he was a member of the Kiwanis Club, treasurer for the Glenn Memorial Methodist Church Sunday school, working as campaign treasurer for Elliott Levitas or involved in some other community-minded activity. He gardened (under mother's explicit instructions), dealt a mean hand of bridge and played tennis several days a week.
Both mother and dad were very involved in the Atlanta Athletic Club where they were formidable tennis players well into their eighties. Dad was very proud of the "Iron Man" Trophy he received when he was eighty-eight years old when he and his partner defeated another ALTA doubles team who were in their fifties.
Mother and dad were also involved in the cultural and artistic venues in Atlanta; supporting the Atlanta Symphony, the Atlanta Ballet and the High Museum as well as being founding members of The Druid Hills Arts Council. Their home is full of art, many by friends such as Charles Reineke, Margaret Via and Irene Belknap. They were avid travelers visiting Russia, the Galapagos Islands, Baja, California (where they came eye to eye with migrating gray whales), Egypt (where dad almost fell off a running camel), Africa, South America, Canada, Hawaii, and almost all of Western Europe.
Dad's irrepressible sense of humor, his groan-inducing puns, his modest assessments of his brilliance and accomplishments and his generosity made him a beloved figure for all who knew him. He was always ready to help family and friends when they were at an awkward moment and the only "interest" he requested was "When you can afford to, pay it forward."
He was truly unique; an exceptional man who will be remembered not only for his quirky humor but for his kindness, his generosity, his integrity and his determination to do the best he could for all those who loved and relied on him.
He is survived by his wife; Elizabeth (Betty) Cole Van Houten, his brother; Donald Van Houten, his children; Thomas Cole Van Houten, Corinne Van Houten and Olivia Lee Van Houten, his grandchildren; Marisa Van Houten Pardo, Trent Walker Van Houten, Mariek Van Houten-Anselme and Alex Van Houten-Anselme. He was lucky enough to hold his great grandson, Clay Thomas Pardo, in July before passing at the age of 93.
The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Atlanta Symphony, the Atlanta Botanical Gardens or any charity of the donor's choice.
A memorial service in his honor is scheduled at Glenn Memorial Methodist Church on Sunday, October 16th at 2:30 PM. A. S. Turner Funeral Home & Crematory.