Derek has a depth of experience in project management from a nearly 30-year military career managing linguists and intelligence professionals. The skills Colonel (Ret) Tolman developed serving the intelligence community transfer over nicely to the family history and genealogy community. As he says, “It’s nice to transition from looking for the bad guys as an intelligence professional to helping others trace the good guys on their family tree.”
Derek hails from a family deeply committed to genealogy and family history. He currently serves as the President of the Thomas Tolman Family Organization which was founded in 1903 by his third-great grandfather. This all-volunteer organization has been holding regular family reunions and preserving ancestral records, pictures, documents, and personal histories for over a century. In the mid-1970s, as the volume of records increased, the family built the Thomas Tolman Family Genealogy Center in Bountiful, Utah by gathering donations of over $70,000 (around $340K in 2018 dollars) and inviting cousins to volunteer over 21,000 hours of labor to house the family records. Over the years, cousins have stayed overnight at the home while they worked on the family records.
Derek’s passion for family history was sparked while serving as a Battalion Commander in Afghanistan in 2008-2009. Under the crushing stress and loneliness associated with the burden of command, he was strengthened by three short family history stories his father shared with him. These stories of faith from his ancestors carried him through that deployment and taught him the power and importance of documenting and preserving our stories.
Derek has a Bachelor’s Degree from Brigham Young University in Spanish Translation and Military Science and a Master’s Degree in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College. Derek resides in South Jordan, Utah with his wife Carolyn who is also a Project Manager for Legacy Tree Genealogists. They are parents of five children.