Thomas Walker, a 56-year resident of San Clemente, went to be with his Lord and Savior on Thursday, June 4. He passed away at home, surrounded by his family. He was 92.
Tom entered the world on All Saints Day, Nov. 1, 1927. A short time later he nearly died of spinal meningitis. A priest was called in to administer last rights, but God had His own plans for the 7th of 8 children of Mary Lowe and Fenton Walker.
Tom’s story was quintessentially American. He was born to parents who had emigrated from Ireland and England. They settled in Chicago, near the banks of the slow-moving Des Plaines River. Years later, Tom would recall ice skating along the river, building bonfires and roasting potatoes with childhood friends.
He grew up during the depression, and early photos show a lanky, blond-haired kid, wide-eyed and restless, with a zest for adventure. At 17, he joined the U.S. Navy and went on to serve in the Pacific during World War II. When the Korean War came along several years later, he enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard.
By then, Tom had moved to California and begun to work as an electrician. In 1952, he married a pretty girl from Pasadena, and together they bought a small home and started a family. They moved to San Clemente in 1964, and eventually Tom started his own business, Walker Electric, helping to build hundreds of local homes.
Tom’s wonder and curiosity enabled him to find extraordinary in the ordinary. He took an Irishman’s delight in listening to people from all walks of life – from painters and plumbers to celebrities and CEOs. To him, they were all fascinating. He loved to tell and re-tell their stories – long, meandering stories that would sometimes test the patience of his audience. Tom never could resist telling people how good they were.
Nor could he resist the urge to tell a joke, especially one that he had told many times before. “Did you ever hear the one about…?” And if his wife and kids rolled their eyes, he would turn to his grandchildren, knowing they would laugh and ask for more.
Family always came first for Tom. He was deeply and unshakably committed to his wife and three children. They were his pride and joy.
Tom handled fatherhood the way his childhood idol Joe DiMaggio played center field – with incomparable skill and grace. He made it look so easy. At the end of every day, no matter how hard he had worked, Tom always made time to toss a baseball, help his sons with their golf swings, or pick up his daughter after a horseback riding lesson. He was patient, encouraging and relentlessly cheerful.
Tom loved the outdoors and he stayed remarkably active over the years. He was an expert on horseback, skied well into his 60s and played golf until he was 90, even scoring a hole in one at age 81.
Love, resilience, gratitude and faith in Jesus Christ. They are Tom’s legacy. He lived in the moment and counted every blessing, no matter how small. His life calls to mind what Ronald Reagan said about John F. Kennedy:
“Everything we saw him do seemed to betray a huge enjoyment of life; he seemed to grasp from the beginning that life is one fast moving train, and you have to jump aboard and hold on to your hat and relish the sweep of the wind as it rushes by. You have to enjoy the journey, it’s unfaithful not to.”
Faithful to the end, Tom is survived by his beloved wife of 68 years, Dianne, their sons Cary (Laura Mecoy) and Mark (Janis), daughter Georgia (John Redmond), and eight grandchildren who gave him tremendous pride and enjoyment: Bradon, Grace, Lily, Raven, Ryan, Sydney, Trey and Walker. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the American Cancer Society.