Tom struck out on his own at an early age working at an orchard, apple shed,and the IGA in Tonasket all at the same time. He then worked at Haskell and Burns in Ellisforde until landing a job with the County Road Department. Tom worked several years for the County Road Department, while also helping with the farming, until he began ranching full time with his brother Noris. Eventually he acquired an orchard in Oroville with his cousin John Leslie and worked it until present day.
When not working, Tom could be found in his shop. He “knew where every single bolt went on a ’72 Ford pickup truck” that he rebuilt “bottom to top” with a “perfect blue and white paint job.” Fixing up older cars and trucks was a lifelong interest.
Tom and Patricia Alexander were married on New Years Eve 1961 and they had two children, Terry and Shannon. Tom lost Pat, his wife, in 1986. Years later he met Florence Kelly and they were married in the summer of 1997. Tom and Florence worked side by side in the orchard all of their married life.
Tom served his community in many ways. Every fall he would send golden delicious apples to the Molson Grange to make into applesauce for their Pancake Breakfasts. He also could be counted on to help clean up the Molson Cemetery and his skill driving a backhoe helped straighten up the Sherling Cabin in the Old Molson outdoor museum.
Tom passed away February 9, 2023. Tom is survived by Florence, Terry and Shannon; brothers, Noris and Kelly; sister, Sharman and nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother Lewis.
Tom was a kind man, generous to a fault, and he will be sorely missed by friends and family. There will be a Celebration of Life this summer.