Sunday, June 9, 2013

Tom Kettering, BHS '56 (1938-2013)

(please scroll down for updates)
Today received the following news from Alan Landros...

Tom Kettering passed away yesterday (Saturday, June 8), about 8:00 A.M., after he fought cancer for the last ten years.  His funeral is tentative for this Thursday, but no definite details yet.  Thought I'd pass this along, since you will remember that Tom has headed up the Southern Section Bulldogs lunches each month in Oceanside.  On our list of attendees for that lunch in May, which would have been May 13, it shows Tom and his wife, Diane, were there.

Then I found this about Tom...

Tom Kettering

Tom KetteringTom Kettering is a native of Burbank, CA, born in 1938.  His grandfather and great-grandfather were both finish carpenters before power machinery.  Tom's grandfather told him at the end of his career in 1947, that the young men were loosing the ability to put out good quality work.  Tom has always loved working with wood; in high school, he finished second for a woodwork scholarship to a local community college.  Instead, in 1957, he enrolled in Los Angeles Trade Technical College as a Tool and Die major, graduating with an A.A. degree.

Tom built dies for the government for six years before accepting a job with The Walt Disney Company, working there for the next thirty years.  He helped build the original "Small World", "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln", and "G.E. Carousel of Progress" for the 1964-65 New York World's Fair.

After retiring in 1993, Tom and his wife bought a motorhome; it was during their travels that his path crossed with a walking stick maker.  This man was giving classes one day a week; Tom enrolled in one of these classes knowing it would be a great hobby for his retirement years.

Tom orders his 'blanks' from many different woods around the United States, his particular favorites are Diamond Willow from Nebraska/Wisconsin/Minnesota/Alaska and from the Smokey Mountains he likes sticks that has been choked by vines, creating a naturally twisted looking stick.

This has been something Tom has enjoyed doing these last eighteen years, having made close to 500 walking sticks and canes.  To quote Tom: "If you are going to be a stick or a cane maker, strive to be the best one; take your time, coming out with a beautifully finished product."

Link to his Walk Sticks:

JUNE 11, 2013 UPDATE

Just fyi.  Service for Tom Kettering will be:
Thursday, June 13, 11:00 A.M.
First Presbyterian Church of Oceanside

2001 El Camino Real

Oceanside, California

In lieu of flowers please make any donations to either First Presbyterian Church of Oceanside, or to Vitas Hospice Care at
Also, just fyi, the type of cancer that Tom had had for almost 12 years now was Multiple Myeloma.  He had had several bone marrow transplants, and stem cell procedures.  He continued being active up to the last, hiking, walking, and three days before his death was still climbing the stairs to go upstairs.

JUNE 12, 2013

Burbank Leader Obituary,0,3664911.story

Thomas Kettering January 30, 1938 - June 8, 2013

Thomas Kettering
Thomas Kettering 

Tom was a Burbank native, moving to San Diego county in 1997, after retiring from a 30 year career with the Walt Disney Company He slipped away quietly in the comfort of family after a 10 1/2 year battle with cancer. Tom has fought this uphill battle with dignity and courage; we’ve all admired his positive spirit. Tom is known for his zest of life, love for his family and friends, his many hobbies and passions.

He is survived by his wife, Diane, son Keith, daughters Kathy Irwin and Michelle Sequeira, two grandchildren (soon to be three), "brother" and "sister" Jonas and Linda Williams and MANY friends.

A celebration of Tom’s life will be held Thursday, June 13th, 11:00 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of Oceanside, 2001 El Camino Real, Oceanside, CA. In lieu of flowers, the family suggest donations be made in memory of Tom, to the First Presbyterian Church of Oceanside, or to Vitas Hospice,


  1. Wonderful comments about Tom...NEVER knew all that about him...God Bless Him and Dianne...(I went to Jr. High with her at Luther Burbank...She was one year ahead of me...

  2. setting the record straight:
    1. Tom never "headed up" the Southern Section Senior Bulldogs; this group does not have a leader.
    2. Tom had Multiple Myeloma for 10 1/2 years; had two stem cell transplants, never a bone marrow transplant, although both procedures are similar
    3. the "Rose's Elegance in Wood" biography was written for Rose pertaining to Tom's woodworking hobby and does not define Tom Kettering as a person.
    4. Tom had not been active the last ten months of his life. Until the last month he did walk their neighborhood, but it was a struggle. He did occasionally climb their stairs, but it was also a huge struggle.
    5. Tom should be remembered for his gentle, kind spirit, for being a good friend to all and a being a loving husband and father. Tom never allowed himself to be a victim of this horrid disease.