Dominion Energy Chairman and Virginia philanthropist Thomas F. “Tom” Farrell II has died, causing the Commonwealth of Virginia and it’s political leaders to mourn the loss of one of the most powerful businessmen in Virginia history Farrell, age 66, passed away due to cancer on Friday, one day after relinquishing the Chairmanship of the company he had steered from 2007 to 2020. Mr. Farrell and his family have heavily influenced some of the most important business and political decisions in the Commonwealth.
In a release from Dominion Energy, the executives from the company expressed their sorrow for the loss of their leader who had been with the energy giant since 1995. The Richmond Times Dispatch reported that Mr. Farrell was raised in Fairfax County. He was a proud graduate of the University of Virginia and the University of Virginia Law School. He served for 15 years as a litigator in the precursor to Virginia legal and lobbying giant McGuireWoods, where one of the partners is his brother-in-law and former Virginia Attorney General Richard Cullen. He came to DE in 1995, was named President and Chief Operating Officer in 2004, President and CEO in 2006, and was elected Chairman of the Board in 2007. Mr. Farrell was also was the former Director and Chairman of the Board of Altria, the parent company of Richmond-based tobacco giant Phillip Morris. He resigned from the board of Altria last month. Both companies are valued in the billions of dollars, with Dominion topping out at over $61 billion in assets and serving 7 million customers across the country.
Mr. Farrell was a philanthropist who devoted endless man hours and millions of dollars to charitable causes across the Commonwealth. He was a rector and member of the Board of Visitors of his alma mater, the University of Virginia. He also served on the Board of Visitors at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. Farrell served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and on the Board of Visitors of the Virginia Fine Arts Museum. Farrell was a donor to the Altria Theatre in downtown Richmond. The Richmond businessman also served on the board of Go Virginia, which strived to foster economic growth across the state.
Farrell also influenced many political decisions across the Commonwealth, leading to shocked reactions from Virginia’s political leaders of both parties. In Virginia politics alone, Mr. Farrell himself had donated almost $1 million in political contributions, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. Dominion Energy as a company has contributed just shy of $22 million dollars in campaign dollars across Virginia since 1996, donating to both Republicans and Democrats.
Farrell’s family has been an important player in the political and business landscape of Virginia. His sons, Delegate Peter Farrell (R- Henrico) and Stuart, have greatly influenced Virginia business and political matters. Delegate Peter Farrell served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 2012 to 2018. Stuart is a major developer with his company Tucahoe Holdings. His brother-in-law Richard is a partner at McGuireWoods, where he has served as counsel to countless powerful clients, including work on behalf of Vice President Mike Pence during the Mueller investigation. Farrell’s nephew, Judge Thomas Cullen, was appointed by President Donald Trump to be United States’ Attorney to the Western District and was later appointed United States’ District Court Judge for the Western District of Virginia by President Trump.
Former Governor Bob McDonnell gave an emotional interview with the Richmond Times Dispatch, where he spoke of his friend and former Bishop Ireton High School classmate as being a true friend during his trial by the then-President Obama’s Department of Justice. Former Governor McConnell was acquitted.
As news of Farrell’s death was made public, condolences from the Commonwealth’s political leaders poured out in statements and tweets. Governor Ralph Northam (D-Virginia) tweeted his condolences to the Farrell family, along with members of both parties.
Pam and I are saddened by the passing of Tom Farrell, who set the standard for business leaders serving the community. He was devoted to his faith and family above all, and his quiet, calm work made Virginia better. My thoughts are with Anne, Peter, Stuart, and all who loved him. https://t.co/mDTMlCv4zg
— Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA) April 3, 2021
Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia) called Farrell’s death a “tremendous loss to the Commonwealth.”
Sending my deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of one of Richmond's true leaders, Tom Farrell, who passed today from his fight against cancer. It's a tremendous loss for the Commonwealth; may he rest in peace.
— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) April 3, 2021
Senator Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) acknowledged his “major influence.”
My heart goes out to Tom Farrell’s family. He had a major influence on Richmond, our Commonwealth, and his beloved UVA. He passed today after a brave fight with cancer.
— Tim Kaine (@timkaine) April 2, 2021
Former Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R-VA-10) called Farrell “a legend.”
So sorry to hear of the loss of a gracious, generous and multi-talented business and philanthropic leader. Tom Farrell was a legend. Our prayers are with the Farrell family, including my former @VaHouse colleague, Peter Farrell. https://t.co/eI1o5trEEe
— Barbara Comstock (@BarbaraComstock) April 2, 2021
State Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax) said he was a “kind and decent man.”
I am shocked and saddened by the passing of Tom Farrell. He was a kind and decent man dedicated to his job and family. I offer my thoughts and condolences to his loved ones.
— Senator Dick Saslaw (@DickSaslaw) April 3, 2021
Former Virginia Speaker of the House of Delegates and gubernatorial candidate Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) said in a statement, “We developed a friendship and I came to rely on Tom for his sound advice, no matter the topic. He was always straightforward and insightful. Like so many others, I trusted him immensely.”
My statement on the passing of former Dominion Energy CEO, business leader, and philanthropist Tom Farrell. pic.twitter.com/5UadzcTNoi
— Kirk Cox (@kirkcoxforva) April 2, 2021
House of Delegates Minority Leader C. Todd Gilbert (R-Mount Jackson) wrote on Twitter that, “No matter the endeavor, Tom did more than just succeed, he changed things for the better.”
"Words cannot express the shock we all felt at the news that we have lost Tom Farrell. No matter the endeavor, Tom did more than just succeed, he changed things for the better." – @cToddGilberthttps://t.co/tV5cDiMdXY
— VA House GOP (@vahousegop) April 3, 2021
Richmond Mayor and former Secretary of the Commonwealth Levar Stoney wrote, “His sincere dedication to making a Richmond a better place deserves our appreciation.”
His sincere dedication to making a Richmond a better place deserves our appreciation. (2/2)https://t.co/HJO83pZeEN
— Levar M. Stoney (@LevarStoney) April 2, 2021
The business and political community will continue to grieve the loss of this giant. Mr. Farrell’s family will continue to be in our prayers.
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Matt Colt Hall is a reporter for The Virginia Star and the Star News Network. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattColtHall on Twitter. Send tips to [email protected]
Photo “Tom Farrell” is by Smart Grid and photo “Dominion Energy” is by Tim Evanson CC 2.0.