Rary is new director of Columbiana library
By PHOEBE DONALD ROBINSON / Community Columnist
Capt. (Ret.) Thomas (Tom) Richard Rary III has returned home to Wilsonville after retiring from the United States Air Force to accept the position of executive director of the Columbiana Public Library.
Tom and the Rary family moved to Wilsonville in 1986. Grandfather Thomas Richard Rary Sr., now deceased, and grandmother Virginia moved with sons Thomas Richard Jr., currently with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department, and Dan, currently chief of Vestavia Police, and their families.
Tom attended Columbiana Middle School and graduated from Shelby County High School in 1996.
He attended Auburn University for a year before joining the Air Force.
Tom married Emily Nafe, daughter of Tony and Dana Nafe of Wilsonville, in 2001. Emily graduated from SCHS Class of 1999.
Life began for the Air Force couple and grew to a family of six with children Elissa, age 16; Robert, age 12; Emma, age 10; and Liam, age 8.
The Rarys lived in Georgia, Texas, South Carolina, South Dakota, Colorado and two years in Incirlik, Turkey.
Not only did the family move a lot in Tom’s 17 years in the Air Force, but he was gone from home serving tours in Kosovo, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait over the years.
Tom served with the 820th Security Forces Group in the 824th Base Defense Squadron primarily with the military police during his years of service.
When Tom retired, he was the Operations Officer, Deputy Chief of Police at the Air Force Academy.
Highly educated, Tom has earned an associate’s degree in criminal justice at Air Force Community College, a B.A. in human resources at Ambridge University in Montgomery, an M.A. in political science from the Citadel, an M.B.A. from Auburn University and is currently working on his Ph.D. in public administration.
“Our family loved living in Turkey,” said Tom. “It was the closest thing to living in Mayberry but in a foreign country. We lived on an air base where everyone knew their neighbors. Taking this job was the perfect opportunity for our family. We have come home to our family and our schools. I look forward to the library’s pleasant environment and working with this great public resource.”