John Calvin Tom III left this life at the age of 75 at Mission Manor Nursing Home in Mt. Vernon in the early hours of Sunday March 18, 2018. John was born on January 28, 1943 to Teny and Calvin Tom in Ft. Worth, Texas.
John was born completely blind, with opaque cataracts. An operation to correct this was successful to the limited extent then possible, and John could see well enough to navigate independently, though always classified as legally blind. He was also slow to talk, though fairly early he began to develop some of his lifetime interests, including American car makes and models and Texas roads and maps.
In 1956 the family moved to Mt. Vernon to start the family medical practice, and Johnny was twelve years old and old enough to start enjoying the friendly people and freedom of movement of a small town. The family practice allowed Ms. Tom to resume her career as a nurse, and Mrs. Seresta Trammel helped run the family house next door and take care of Johnny, his sister Larkin, and the new baby Debbie. In Mt. Vernon schools Johnny completed his twelve years in special education under Ms. Mary Duncan, and at eighteen he went to live at Marbridge Ranch for Boys near Austin, where he learned to be more self-sufficient. He often rode back and forth with then-State Representative Neal Solomon for holidays at home.
After the early death of his parents, Johnny lived for a while with his sister Larkin and her husband Leonard Van Gendt and their family. He was thrilled when they all moved back to Mt. Vernon in 1985, and he began one of the happiest phases of his life. On his daily walks he made the round of town businesses, the hospital, and nursing homes to see his many friends, never forgetting to visit the cemetery once or twice daily. His interests included monitoring the car registration expiration dates of all his friends’ vehicles and giving timely reminders, attending all home Tiger football games rain or shine, and serving as a volunteer fireman. John lived near Home Town Food, and when the siren went off at the old downtown firehouse he and grocer Greg Carr raced simultaneously on foot to the station. Greg noted that during daytime summer grassfires many of the volunteers were working elsewhere, and it was often the two of them, with Johnny serving as an able second in command following his directions to manage the hoses and successfully put out fires.
Johnny had a strong work ethic and was always a model employee working in sheltered workshops at various places where he lived. He loved getting a paycheck and relaxing with one daily beer after work. When he moved with his sister Larkin and her family to Sherman and Georgetown for some years, his ability to make friends did not desert him. While in Sherman he regularly attended Austin College football games and had a standing invitation to watch from the press box with a group of alumni. Still, his goal was always to retire in Mt. Vernon, and he was able to achieve that in 2012 when he returned to Mt. Vernon for good with the help of his sister and brother-in-law, Debbie and David Norman.
John was a lifelong member of the United Methodist Church and faithfully attended without fail wherever he lived, as long as his health permitted. He had many wonderful friends from all walks of life, too many to be listed by name, but all ready to share a laugh and bring him genuine joy.
John is survived by his sisters Debbie and Larkin and brother-in-laws David Norman and Leonard Van Gendt, as well as his loving nieces Rosa Theofanis, Lauren Lewis,Saskia Van Gendt and Audrey Norman.