I open all the mail General Aviation News receives. From time-to-time, a subscriber will write a note on their renewal notice. Most often the note is words of encouragement or appreciation. On occasion it is a complaint. We can’t please everyone.
But when I read a note on Tom Wathen’s renewal notice, I was taken aback. “Mr. Wathen is deceased.”
Simple, understated and to the point. But I had a hard time believing it. A quick Google search turned up his obituary notice in the Santa Barbara News-Press. He died peacefully on June 20, 2016, his wife Carol by his side.
From that notice, “Tom’s special genius was that he never met a stranger. He was instantly and truly friends with everyone he met, without regard to their social standing, money or lack of it.” Yep. That’s Tom.
I had the pleasure of seeing Tom at aviation events from coast-to-coast. I’ve yet to find a gentler soul.
Of the many worthy causes Tom put his financial energy behind, the Tom Wathen Center at Flabob Airport in Riverside, California, stands out.
Chairman Jon Goldenbaum assured me, via a recent phone call, the Wathen Center is stronger than ever and will “continue in perpetuity.”