Tom Zachary: The Legacy of the Man Behind the Court


J. Tom Zachary’s name still welcomes visitors and students to the school, as he did on Jeffrey Hamling’s first day. Picture credit: Claire Mulkey

Claire Mulkey


Today, many students pass by the basketball court dedicated to former Roswell Principal J. Tom Zachary without giving it a second thought. Current Roswell students know of Dr. Huff,  Dr. Shaw, and maybe even Dr. Spurka, but not of Mr. Zachary.

Tom Zachary served as principal from 1989 until his death in 1998. Born in Graham, North Carolina, he attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before moving to St. Petersburg, Florida and then on to Roswell, Georgia. Mr. Zachary was married to Lynda

The J. Tom Zachary Court is used for everything from Physical Education classes, basketball games and practices, dance and step team performances, volleyball games, wrestling matches, and pep rallies. Picture Credit: Claire Mulkey

and they shared two daughters, Teri and Jan, together. He was a member of Roswell Rotary and the Georgia Association of Secondary School Principals (GASSP), as well as the National Association of of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).

Tom Zachary has had a lasting impact on Roswell High School and the community. In addition to the basketball court named in his honor, Zachary was posthumously inducted into the Roswell Athletic Hall of Fame in 2019. Each year, the Tom Zachary VIP Award is given to students who demonstrate dedication and drive in and outside the classroom, no matter their academic achievements. Four scholarships of $1,500 each are also awarded by the Roswell Rotary, called the Tom Zachary Scholarships. 

The J. Tom Zachary Court underwent major renovations this past summer. Picture Credit: Claire Mulkey

“Walking into the front entrance of RHS as a freshman in 1995 was an intimidating experience. I remember seeing a tall, broad shouldered, white-haired gentleman rocking back and forth against the wall. He was introducing himself and speaking with students as they walked by him. I told him my name and he said ‘Uh-oh! I hope you’re as smart as your sister and as funny as your daddy.’

“I knew then that he was my kind of people,” said Jeffrey Hamling, class of 1999.