Cover photo for Tom Montgomery Wootton Sr.'s Obituary
Tom Montgomery Wootton Sr. Profile Photo
1921 Tom 2016

Tom Montgomery Wootton Sr.

November 13, 1921 — May 31, 2016

Lt. Colonel USAF (Retired) Tom Montgomery Wootton Sr., Lt. Colonel USAF (Retired) was born on November 13, 1921 in Astoria, Oregon and passed away surrounded with love on May 31, 2016 in Elk Grove, CA. He was a Geologist for Shell Oil Co. from 1949 to 1966 when he then became a Geologist for the State of California until his retirement in 1981. He was married to Erlene B. Stovall from 1944 to 1980 and Irene Martin from 1981 to present. Preceded in death in 1946 by a daughter, Sue Ellen Wootton, and step-daughter, Pat Pedigo (Bert). Survived by son, Tom M. Wootton Jr. Lt. Commander USN - Retired (Phyllis) of Elk Grove, and daughter Rebecca J. Hornor (Noel) of Portland, OR. Also survived by step-daughters Jeanette Calvin (Jim) of Citrus Heights, CA and Sandra Barrett (John) of Sacramento, CA. Preceded in death by brother, William B. Wootton Jr. - Colonel US Army (Retired) of Port Ludlow, WA. Survived by sister, Betsy W. Howard (Mark) of Vancouver, WA. Preceded in death by parents William B. (1991) and Katherine M. Wootton (1982). Survived by grandchildren Jodi Mendez (Julio), Heather Hornor (Jeremy), Ryan Hornor (Elizabeth) and step-grand-children Maggie, David, Brett, Daniel, Travis and Jennifer. Also survived by six great-grandchildren and nine step-great-grandchildren. Tom was born in Astoria, Oregon to a family heavily involved in the fishing and cannery business since the late 1800's (Columbia River Packers Association, which ultimately became Bumble Bee Seafood). With his father as VP of the Alaska Operations, Tom enjoyed many summers in the cannery towns of Chignik and Nanek, Alaska as a child and later as a summer employee. As an amateur mechanic, he also served as marine engineer for Bumble Bee on a power scow, which lost propulsion during a violent storm in the North Pacific. He was able to jury-rig an emergency fuel cross connect system, restoring power to the engines to get the ship and crew safely back to port. He graduated in 1939 from Astoria High School and went on to pursue a degree in Geology at Oregon State University. His first love was the water, but during college he participated in the Civilian Pilot Training Program, obtaining his pilot's license. When WWII began, he enlisted in the US Army Air Corps and spent the war as a pilot instructor, earning the reputation of being able to train even the most challenging of students to fly. While stationed in Pecos, TX, he courted and married the vivacious Erlene Stovall. When the war ended, Tom and Erlene returned to Astoria and then Corvallis, where he completed his BS degree in Geology. After graduation, he accepted the position as Geologist and Micro-paleontologist for Shell Oil Co. in Bakersfield, CA, where Tom Jr. and Becky were born. Shell transferred him to Sacramento where he enjoyed working in the field prospecting for natural gas fields throughout the state. After leaving Shell, Tom worked as a project administrator for Aerojet General on the Navy Polaris Strategic Missile Rocket Propulsion Program. Tom was given the opportunity to return to Geology working for the State of California Water Resources Department in Red Bluff and later, Los Angeles, CA. When offered a position with the State Department of Mines and Geology, Tom gladly accepted and returned to Sacramento with his family. After the 1971 Los Angeles earthquake, Tom was selected to supervise and manage the Strong Motion Instrumentation Program, a project endorsed by Governor Jerry Brown. Tom recruited, organized and trained a team of hotshot engineers and electronics technicians who placed seismic acceleration sensors in buildings and structures throughout the state. Tom's leadership and management of the SMIP program was a pinnacle and highlight of his career, earning the respect and admiration of his coworkers in the project and ultimately improved the building codes to a safer standard. He was an active participant in the international forums for earthquake studies held in Hawaii and Taiwan. Tom retired from Air Force Reserves in 1981 and the State of California in 1983. In 1981, Tom married Irene martin and settled into his retirement shortly thereafter pursuing his love of boating and fishing, along with his interest in firearms, target shooting and reloading his own ammunition, and woodworking. He continued his love of aviation as a member of the Gray Eagles. He and Irene enjoyed many years of camping and traveling throughout the US to visit family and friends. Tom was a devout Lutheran and devoted his life to serving God and his family, often taking on obligations far beyond expectations and met them with the highest sense of personal honor and without regard to his own sacrifice. We are thankful and better people for having him in our lives. Funeral Services will be held on Thursday, June 9, 2016 at 11 am at W.F. Gormley & Sons, 2015 Capitol Ave., Sacramento, CA., 95811. In lieu of flowers the family requests donations in Tom's name to the Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust: 3725 Alexandria Pike, Cold Spring, KY 41076
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