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Obituary for Thomas William "Tom" Reed
Thomas (Tom) Reed passed away on February 11, 2020 in Brookings, Oregon at the age of 87.
Tom was born December 3, 1932 to John and Eva Reed in San Bernardino, CA. Tom was the youngest of five boys and idolized his brothers Clint Hewlett, Jim Hewlett, Don Hewlett and John (Jr.) Reed. During his childhood he enjoyed a variety of sports from baseball to tumbling while attending schools in San Bernardino, CA; Pullman, Washington; and Victorville, CA. He met the love of his life, Barbara Jean Knight at San Bernardino High School and graduated with the Class of 1950.
Shortly after graduation, Tom worked for the Santa Fe Railroad as a Facilities Electrician Helper and as a Firefighter living in the fire hall. Tom married Barbara on January 9, 1953 and they had their first child, Crystal, in August 1954. Also in January 1953, Tom enlisted in the US Coast Guard. After Boot Camp on Coast Guard Island in Alameda, CA and completing US Navy Firefighting School on Treasure Island in San Francisco, CA, Tom went on to attend and graduate from Coast Guard Radio Operator School in Groton, CT. Graduating second in his class, he was allowed to choose his duty location and he chose San Diego, CA. There, he served as radioman on the USCG Cutter Perseus and USCG Cutter Pontchartrain during the Korean conflict. He had many experiences during his shipboard service that he would recount for the rest of his life. These included rescuing tuna fishermen from stormy surf off the coast of Mexico; unsuccessfully trying to hail a Korean freighter until his ship shot over its bow; and the rescue of all 31 passengers and crew from a Pan Am Stratocruiser airliner that had to ditch in the mid-pacific where all survived. He also served as Radioman at the Eleventh Coast Guard District Primary Radio Station in Long Beach, CA at the Point Vicente lighthouse and radio station. Tom was Honorably Discharged from the US Coast Guard in December 1956.
In 1957, Tom and his family moved back to San Bernardino where he attended colleges in San Bernardino and San Fernando Valley earning certificates in Electronics and Business Management. Tom and Barbara’s second child Eric, was born in 1958 and the family moved to Van Nuys, CA where Tom worked as a radar technician for Lockheed Corporation calibrating radar on the F-94 Starfire.
Tom next gathered his family and bought a new house in Simi Valley, CA where he worked for two Divisions of North American Aviation, namely Rocketdyne and Atomics International, both at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory. At Rocketdyne, he coordinated the testing and recording of the Saturn V moon rocket’s second stage booster engines. When these engines would fire, their roar could be heard at the Reed house miles away in Simi Valley. One of Tom’s favorite stories of the time was when he met actors Bill Cosby and Richard Culp at the engine test site while they were filming an episode of the TV show “I Spy”. At Atomics International, he worked on testing of several types of commercial nuclear power generators including the first commercial nuclear power plant in the U.S. Tom left the aerospace business in 1968 and moved his family to Orange County, CA when he accepted a job at the U.S. Divers Aqua Lung Division in Santa Ana, CA developing product test apparatus for the company. Tom also returned to college earning an Associates of Arts degree in Business from Orange Coast College. Tom enjoyed his work at Divers especially meeting US Divers CEO Jacques Cousteau and his sons; touring the Cousteau research vessel “Calypso”; and pitching for the Divers AAA fastpitch softball team earning him the names “Captain Tornado” and “Atom Bomb Tom”, names which he would be called the rest of his life. Tom held both NAUI and PADI scuba certificates. Tom’s daughter and son were also SCUBA certified and the three of them enjoyed many diving adventures throughout California.
In 1984, Tom and Barbara, along with their son Eric started “Test Engineering”, a business of designing and building respiratory safety apparatus testing equipment. Clients included US Divers, various fire departments, Universities and occupational health organizations. In 1989, Tom moved his business to Eureka, CA then to Brookings, OR in 1993. Test Engineering remained viable with active projects up until the day he died. In Brookings, Tom enjoyed working with a number of volunteer organizations including the Masonic lodge; Elks lodge; Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 966 where he served as Chaplain; First Baptist Community Church; delivering Meals on Wheels; and volunteering with the Brookings Police “Volunteers in Police Service” or “VIPS”. Tom and Barbara both enjoyed the many hours working together with the VIPS and were very active with the organization. Tom’s hobbies included photography (where he was the family photographer and could be seen at nearly all kids and grandkids events with a camera in hand); art (sketching cartoons often featuring Captain Tornado); sports (where he was a huge Dodger fan); and supporting his family.
Tom is survived by his daughter Crystal Hull; Son-in-law David Hull (or whats his name as Tom would often call him); Daughter-in-law Kim Reed; granddaughters Molly Hull, Jamie Hull and Rachel Reed; great grandson Caden Pelley and great granddaughter Kaci Pelley. Tom was proud that his life’s work was always aimed at ensuring that people were safe and protected, whether in outer space or in the depth of the oceans and everywhere in-between. Way to go Atom Bomb Tom!
A celebration of Tom’s life will be held at 10:30 AM, Saturday June 13th, 2020 at the First Baptist Community Church, 607 Pacific Ave., Brookings, OR.