Thomas Alfred "Tom" Nipper, a longtime Belk retail executive and Charleston civic leader, died Tuesday in Tuscaloosa, Ala., where he recently moved to be near family. He was 81.
He was born in Winfield, Ala., and served in the Navy.
Nipper started his retail career in marketing and management with Davidson's Department Store in Atlanta and Columbia, S.C. He joined Belk in 1975 and rose to become a senior vice president and division chairman for merchandising, marketing and management, holding positions in Charlotte, Wilmington, N.C. and Charleston, where he worked until his retirement in September 2000.
Nipper was instrumental in bringing a Belk distribution center and department store to Summerville. He also helped oversee Belk's expansion to Mount Pleasant Towne Centre.
He was on the board of Spoleto Festival USA, the Trident Technical College Foundation and the Trident United Way.
He is survived by his wife, Jo Ann Riley Nipper and son, Scott Nipper.
Services will be held Friday at 2 p.m. at Musgrove United Methodist Church in Winfield, Ala. Arrangements are being handled by Miles Funeral Home of Winfield, Ala.