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Fish Affishionado

I met Tom (and Evan) diving on a REEF trip in Cozumel. I wound up tagging along after Tom and Evan because they knew the best dinner spots. It was wonderful diving on REEF trips together! And I really miss Tom's fishy comments on the REEF facebook page - he always had some knowledge and something funny to share.


Jan Gibson

Tandom Tom

I knew Tom long before I ever met him. He met Grace, my sister-in-law, about 3 years ago when Frank and I were living in Hawaii. When I asked her about him, she answered “He has a tandom.” He was thereafter known as Tandom Tom. Grace and Tom quickly became a couple doing hikes, backpacking, stargazing, movie watching, and especially biking. Grace is a highly active person and Tom kept up (and dare I say surpassed) her. When COVID hit they still did their almost daily bike rides and dinner together. Grace would cook and Tom would clean up - he said he was her “Daisy” (a Downton Abbey reference.) They were incredibly happy together. We finally met Tom in the summer of 2021 when we moved back home. Tom’s intelligence and sense of humor were immediately evident. He always had a story or opinion about almost any subject. Although his was a small family (only his niece was present in his life) he was not overwhelmed by our boisterous gatherings for birthdays, holidays, and events. I did discover that Tom couldn’t keep a secret. I left him a voice mail stating that I had a “super, secret, surprise for Grace’s birthday.” He ended up listening to it in front of her. We had a really good laugh about that. I had recently found out that Tom enjoyed doing the WORDLY as I do. I was looking forward to talking with Tom about it and discussing strategies. I am angry at the world for taking Tom before his time and depriving our family of its newest member He died too soon.

Shana Ava

I worked with Tom for more than six years at UW. I appreciated and admired his free and adventurous spirit, his self-confidence, his fiscal discipline, his joy for exercise, his can-do attitude, and his passion for caring for the environment. He made the workplace better for everyone with his creative and efficient problem-solving skills. He sent me a short bio to introduce him to my new team. After reading his bio, I realized that he was a very humble person. 


A short bio was written by Tom on 2/7/2022: His connection to UW began in 1979 when he arrived from far away to begin graduate study in biological oceanography. Ever since then, he has remained connected – sometimes informally, sometimes formally—including both staff and faculty positions. He taught marine science up until 2015, at Seattle Central College (11 years), UW (5 years), and on a boat in Puget Sound (30 years). He has many active recreational interests: primarily bicycling (over 185,000 miles to date), plus hiking, scuba diving, and sailing. If you need help identifying a Caribbean fish, he is your guy! 

We were not close, we were colleagues, but I miss him, and have thought of him every day when I sat behind the ergonomic desk that he assembled for me. Rest in peace, Tom!

Dana P Miller

Memories of Tom

I learned of Tom’s passing last Saturday, March 26th, the day before the memorial service. I was grateful to attend the service on Zoom and was pleased to see the support from the University of Washington, friends, and family of Evan and Tom. I lived at the Wayfarer from 2005 to 2012 and was Vice President of the board from 2006 to 2012, when I moved from Seattle. Through my experience on the board, I had the opportunity to work with Tom, gain leadership experience, and get to know him better. Some highlights were the purchase of a new furnace that was not the size of a locomotive and replacing all the western-facing windows due to an easement settlement with the Lothlorian building construction across the alley. Tom was a resourceful leader for the Wayfarer and did a large percentage of the property management work. The current board will have their work cut out for them. He had an amazing skill for Mcgivering solutions to keep the almost 100-year-old building hung together. One example was the back door to the alley which was always breaking down. He kept a fleet of old vacuum cleaners in the furnace room going way beyond the point most people would have thrown them in the trash. He was from the era of the TV repairman. I also was impressed with how Tom turned his small storage unit into a lighted and very functional workshop to keep his biking and scuba gear in top working order while the rest of us piled our storage units with junk. Tom and I shared many of the same values, for good and bad, of trying to be frugal, not wasteful, and keeping things working before throwing them out. Tom always encouraged me to ride my bike that just sat in the Wayfarer basement as it does in my garage now. I did follow up on some of his encouragement to get certified in Scuba diving which has provided me with a unique connection at this moment. While I didn’t bike or dive with Tom, I spent many dinners with him at Tandoor, the Indian restaurant just north of the Wayfarer on University Avenue. Tom expanded massive calories biking and I witnessed his intake of them. Through these dinners, I learned about Tom’s life growing up in a military family and his appreciation of music, film, and sports. Always a late adopter, I had never seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Tom talked me into seeing a midnight showing with him at the Grand Illusion Cinema. I also have good memories of meeting up with Tom a few times for swimming at the Colman Pool in West Seattle’s Lincon Park. Tom would bike out there and I would ride the bus. One time we had dinner at my parent’s house in West Seattle. Tom was a precise, and at times, demanding person who lived his values. But what strikes me at this point is that he really learned how to enjoy life. I was pleased to learn at the memorial that Tom had found Grace to share his life experiences with. After processing the loss of Tom this week, I believe Tom had it figured out. He worked to live and did pretty much what he wanted to do. My goal going forward is to live more like Tom. Seattle and the University District have changed so much since I left in 2012. I know the University District will no longer be the same place without Tom.

There was a beautiful Worplesdon Sweetgum tree growing past my window on the 3rd floor of the Wayfarer. I always used that tree as a gauge for the seasons. I had learned from Tom that he had saved the Sweet Gum tree from being cut down along with a Magnolia. Just another reminder of the connection to nature that Tom provided.


Jim Benedetto

My student and friend

I've known Tom for a very long time.  Tom was a member of the Tulsa Memorial High School Big Blue Machine and was a member of the drumline.  I was the band director and got to know Tom being part of the band and he was a very good drummer as well as an excellent student.  Later in life when I moved to Washington state i reengaged with Tom.  We spoke quite often and talked music and his love for biking and diving.  When I met Tom on one of his rides, he looked just like he did in high school except for grey hair and beard.  I have lost a very good friend and he will be missed.  He left us way to early but will always be remembered.

Liz Duffy

Celebrating a Puget Sound protector

I had the pleasure of getting to know Tom through many years teaching PMR's Marine Science Afloat trips and it's hard to believe I have to bid farewell to this fellow "smurf" (what PMR instructors were called). His passion for protecting Puget Sound, inspiring kids, and leading by example was always inspiring. You could tell he truly enjoyed himself and approached the world with a skip in his step and a twinkle in his eye. He taught me a lot about many things and always made sure we had the facts right, as exactly right as possible, in our lessons to the kids. I was always impressed at his consistency and dedication in all of his endeavors. He would detail his bike rides and list his running mileage tallies, and only missed his marks for good reasons (I remember a broken collar bone slowed him down briefly). He always had endless energy, somehow making it through a busy day with only the one sesame bagel he brought in a paper bag everyday. I enjoyed diving with him in Puget Sound and I had my first drysuit dive in a suit he lent me, which was almost glorious, until it leaked. I'd fallen out of touch with him after my teaching days ended, but it has been nice to hear that he kept on biking and diving and living the full active and outdoor life I know he loved. It is such a tragedy that he has been taken too soon and I extend my deepest condolences to all his loved ones. His is a great loss but I know there are thousands of people that he touched and inspired and they are carrying on his lessons and legacy.

Maya Magarati

Tom Schaefer

Tom had unique sense of humor and he was funny, kind and super helpful. Prior to the pandemic, I have shared many lunch break with Tom (and Leo) in the Social Work School's staff lunch room. They were like twins, same height, stature, white beard and all and they would compare and compete for who was more fit. During those times, I would hear about Tom's annual volunteer fish counting expeditions in the pacific ocean by Mexico, scuba diving to do that work. His marine citizen science contribution to conservation. Never did I imagine that his boat would sink while doing the activity he loved. He had always returned from the trip to tell the stories. He also was proud of his bike riding adventures that would be more than 100 miles on the weekends. I have also seen him help with yard maintenance at his condominium when I walked from the car park to Social Work building. We had talked about Seattle's real estate market at one point. I was the first Nepali Tom said he had met. Rest in Peace, Tom! - Maya

Sandra Dean

Memories of Mr. America

The first time I met Tom was when I was an “older” student in his Environmental Science course at Seattle Central College, trying to complete one of the many science courses that I neglected to take in my art school days at UW.


Tom was a wonderfully inspiring instructor with a great collection of vintage wool vests, who had a gentle nature, and was admirably deep-souled and passionate about the natural world I also loved. Since I was a visual artist who tried to illuminate “ the cycles of life that surround and sustain us all”, some time after that Environmental Science course ended we met again and became very close friends, both inspired by the same subject but coming from different approaches.


 As others have mentioned already on this Memories page, Tom was an athlete, much more athletic than I would ever be. And with my blindness in one eye, i had no business being on any bicycle. I grew to know Tom as a, kind, thoughtful, quirky, frugal, extremely funny, secretly soft and emotional, and very generous man who lined his beloved tool chest with carpet to keep everything clean and in order. He liked to fix things, and with the snazziest tool chest in the world, i nicknamed him “Mr. America: Wold’s best Handyman.” We both loved trees and when he found a special tree on his bike rides, he would be sure to send me a photo and the location. When his mother died Tom went through her possessions and brought back a wonderful gift for me: a beautiful, vintage book that his mother purchased years before, written by an obscure artist who shared the same values that I had about nature. Its title was, “For those Who See”. Tom knew me as someone who “saw” deeply, and I so appreciated his continual respect for that part of my life that so many others completely overlooked.


 He loved his Beethoven and his Stravinsky Rite of Spring, and introduced me to the Texas blues wonders of Stevie Ray Vaughn. His unique, almost gasping laugh always completely cracked me up, especially when he would finish his torrent of laughter and top it off with one of his favorite “Oklahomian” slang phrases as our private joke: “Boy Howdy!” 


When I taught art to elementary school age children and led my students in creating a project titled “The Earth Around Us”, Tom agreed to make a live appearance in the class in his full diving outfit and flippers, as “Mr. Manatee”, who told tales about his diving adventures in the beautiful, great blue ocean. He was their hero, and he was mine as well even though our lifestyles were so different that we were not meant to be life partners on the practical level. 


The last conversation I had with Tom was by phone around Christmastime, 2021, just before he was leaving to pick up Grace, (his wonderful and lifestyle-compatible partner) at the airport. He told me how much he was looking forward to his next diving trip in the spring, a part of his life that I was always anxious about. In one of the very first conversations I had with Tom many years ago, I shared with him a quote by a British biologist and author whose views I revered and incorporated into the imagery of my art. HIs name is Rupert Sheldrake, and the quote was, “ As material forms come into being and disappear, there is no change in the amount of matter and energy in the world. There is only a change in the way that matter and energy are organized.” In typical Scientific Mode, Tom replied that he completely understood the quote and reasons I loved it. He continued by saying said that when those “changes” ceased on the physical level for him, he also knew that “ all the atoms and molecules of his physical body would just return to their elemental forms to become something else”. 


Wherever you are, whatever is being organized invisibly or is “becoming,” Tom Schaefer, I send you a shining light of great gratitude for enriching my life with your deep souled, planet earth spirit.

Jennifer Brower

Tom, the teacher and friend to us all

Tom and I became friends at the UW School of Social Work through our love of scuba diving and being in the water. He would call me "Scuba Jenn" and always asked when my next scuba adventure would be. He was my go to person when I was planning a trip and he always sent me links and a list of what I would see on my trip. He gave me tips of where the best place to see whale sharks would be. We would share pictures of what we saw on our different trips and I would hear about his fish counting in Mexico. Tom also tried to help me when I was learning to sail one year but I was a lost cause. One time we took out a two person boat and of course I managed to capsize the boat as we sailed in winds that picked up and had us perpendicular to the water most of the time. The water was cold since it was the beginning of Fall but he was a good sport about it. I am sure he was not use to swimming in Lake Washington in the Fall. He would watch me from land as well and give me tips. I managed to pass a few levels thanks to his help. I will greatly miss my friend and teacher, and hearing "Scuba Jenn" in the hallways.


Kalei Kanuha

Intelligent and kind

Thanks for the kind, steady and competent support Tom always provided me and others. I did not know Tom well, but I recall the first time we met when he was helping me move into my office when I started at the SSW about 6 years ago. We had a great discussion about earthquake potential in WA state and what preparedness would mean. He was so smart and generous in his sharing, time, and support. I send wishes of light and healing to his family, friends, and colleagues.


Jennifer Stuber

Always helping

Tom helped me so many times to set up my office in the school of social work over the past decade. In remarkable physical shape, he was always willing to help. even with the most annoying and mundane tasks. He built relationships with other as he helped. Sprinkling word of wisdom where-ever he went and genuinely stopping to learn about your journey.

Vicki Anderson-Ellis

In the moment

I've known Tom for over 16 from my work with him at the UW School of Social Work. Tom always lived life in the moment. Whether it was a lively conversation in the mailroom, discussions of what Hardwicks (a Seattle institution that recently closed) had to offer in its aisles, to his amazing ability to find a home cooked meal and/or leftovers awaiting him and others at the School, Tom lived life to its fullest. He worked to live and what a life he had! I was always in awe of his next adventure and am so happy he did what he loved. I will miss our conversations that remind me of what he was passionate about and will always remember his strong spirit and sense of self. Au revoir Tom! We will miss you greatly.


Mary Denend & Evan Jensen

We met Tom through Grace and always enjoyed enlightening conversations at family gatherings.  We came away better informed from his poignant and relevant insights.  We had a mutual love of nature and felt inspired by his repurposing electronic devices rather than buying new.  He was always curious and his energy seemed tireless.  We fondly remember the day that he and Grace rode his tandem bike to South Park just to visit our vintage secondhand booth at an outdoor market.  The world needs more people like Tom.  He will be sorely missed.


Erich von Abele

"Hey Tom"

I didn't know Tom as well as the others who have posted their wonderful memories here. I was just a renter at the Wayfarer Cooperative where he was President for many years and always remained a central part of the building's upkeep in so many ways. Though I didn't see him regularly, often when I was out and about doing Wayfarer chores, he would come round the corner and I'd say "Hey Tom" and he would say "Hi Erich" and invariably we'd pause to strike up a conversation. He usually had something interesting or amusing to observe, and would include a useful tip or advice about something practical, and he was a good listener. Tom was also very generous with his time and with any favors a person needed at the moment. Often I didn't even realize how generous he was being until afterwards, and I'd think "wow, that was cool of Tom to do that!" Writing this on March 17, I must say I'm still in shock about his passing. When I'm walking down one of the Wayfarer halls, going into the laundry room, going up or down one of the stairs, I still think Tom will come round the corner and I'll say "Hey Tom". In many ways, his spirit lives on here at the Wayfarer.

Margaret Schwertner

A Dear Friend

I came to know Tom through Grace over the course of a number of years. I knew that he loved biking, sailing, and scuba. But much of my time with him was spent hiking and backpacking with Grace and our hiking group. I look at my photos and we did a LOT of mountain adventures! He was a strong hiker (could leave my slightly younger butt in the dust) and a lover of nature. But most of all, he was a kind, funny friend, who loved Grace very much. He grumbled at hiking in the rain and at my dog "Badger" (see scruffy badly behaved black dog in the photos) and took the affiliated teasing in great stride. I've caught him making snowmen, sneaking away hiking chocolate, enjoying red wine from a can, and conversing affectionately with Badger (the truth is out, Tom). Dear Tom. It has been a true pleasure to know you! Thank you for your company and friendship! Love always, Margaret, Rod, Madison, Heidi, and Badger.

I forgot to mention that Tom wore rain pants to my wedding! I loved him for that! I will miss his humor, kindness, and enthusiasm for life!

Ernie Grillo

Such a Loss to Our Community

I was shocked to read the sad news in Sundays Seattle Times of Toms passing. It was a few months ago but seems like yesterday that we were talking at the Cascade Bike Club Volunteer Appreciation Day. Tom and my wife and I both rode tandems so we saw each other often on club and charity rides. His volunteering and activism helped improve cycling conditions for all of us.. We had been exchanging emails since he was hoping my tandem would fit him and his partner . Toms passing leaves a big hole in our cycling community. Our condolences to his friends and family.

Leslie Holmes

Memories of Tom Schaefer

I met Tom in 1983 when he was a graduate student at the University of Washington. This was years before Seattle had a curbside recycling program, so I remember Tom saved up bags of his paper junk mail in his apartment which he would then take to a recycling center. He convinced me to save up my junk mail too, and I remember us driving down to a recycling center south of Downtown Seattle with a car full of junk mail to recycle. Tom was also the person who introduced me to swimming in Seattle lakes, and I still frequently swim in Green Lake every summer.

Kim Nail Little


The world will be a darker place without Tom. He was a treasured high school friend and marching band buddy. Tom was witty, compassionate, and a gentle spirit. May his spirit soar.

Form Submission

Robert Landis

My friend of fifty two years.

I met Tom when I entered high school; we were both snare drummers in “ The Big Blue Machine” His worldly background at that point opened my world- he had lived in London ( I believe) and he spoke of the food and music. The first time I heard The Who’s Tommy was at his house. ( His dad had an amazing stereo.) We listened to everything; Zappa, Coltrane, jazz, rock, drummers, drum corps, and on and on. I went to OU partly because he was there and had spun wonderful stories about life as a college student there. I learned to respect the earth, the sea, and how we affect it all, because of his deep love of the natural world. I envied his commitment to cycling; I loved seeing his diving photos. I always looked forward to his musical recommendations, whether it was a classic jazz album or an amazing high school jazz ensemble he heard. Above all, he was truly authentic, real, and kind. I’ll miss you Tom, rest in piece.


Desi Schatz

Tom was my employee for about 4.5 years, but I had known him since I was a student employee for the School of Social Work and worked beside him as his coworker. Getting to work and supervise Tom I really did get to know him quite well and we completed many facilities projects for the school together. As I walk through the halls remembering all our times together, I see so much of him in the school. He truly did everything and has done projects in every single space of this school that in one way or another has greatly impacted each faculty, staff or student. Tom had many interests, but something that struck me most was his love for the environment. Whenever he had the chance, he would advocate for our building to do things differently, and have us consider the impact we had on the environment. He’d often go to our storage rooms or conference rooms and turn off lights when they weren’t in use (he called this “saving the salmon”) or he’d go through the recycle and trash bins when he’d see that someone didn’t quite organize their disposal correctly. He’d also reach out to companies who constantly sent junk mail to alert them to stop sending mail to folks who were no longer with SSW- cutting down the waste in our recycle bins. He would even use a section of his workspace to collect all of the styrofoam disposal throughout the school for pick up with UW Recycle. My hope is to continue these environmental efforts in the school in honor of his memory. One of our major projects Tom and I would work on together was surplusing old items in the school, and him and I often would get in discussions on what we would be surplusing. Sometimes we’d disagree, and I’d usually want to surplus more things, but he often wanted to hold on to everything. It would get to the point where I’d put the item in the surplus pile for pick up, and then he’d go and hide the item in his office so he could use it on another project possibly later. As I look in his office, I see so many of these ‘hidden treasures’ that he kept and know that he is smiling somewhere at me trying to figure out what each of these little screws or parts etc. he left behind are. Tom was so full of life and had a passion for living each day to its fullest. One of my favorite memories has to be this time that Tom and I went to Ducky’s (used furniture store out in Seattle). I’m talking serious business with the saleswoman trying to strike up the best deal and I look over to find Tom on one of those motorized coin operated duck rides (the kind you usually see kids on) having a good old time laughing and smiling to himself. So of course, I had to stop my conversation with the saleswoman and get a picture! I don’t think Tom ever knew that I took his picture, but it was always a funny secret I thought I’d keep for when he would at some point retire. Tom, you were truly one of a kind, and will be missed so much. <3



Tom and I met in 2008 when my husband and I moved in across the hall from him at the Wayfarer Cooperative. Tom was the President of the Coop and cared deeply about his home at the Wayfarer. He took great pride in the 100+ year old building and did more to keep the place running than anyone else. Tom invited me to ride on the back of his tandem bicycle one day after a board meeting. This led to a great friendship and many amazing rides on the tandem between 2009 and 2013. We rode Seattle to Portland, Chilly Hilly, Mazama, and some others that I don't remember but Tom would. Our proudest tandem ride was RAMROD. I still have the email he sent me the next day, he was so proud and happy that we had done it. And of course we did SO many training rides because Tom had to make sure I was properly prepared! Tom knew all of our tandem stats even 10 years later. Our fastest speed? I think it was 52 mph but I will never know for sure. It was ridiculously fast, I know that. I wouldn't get on the back of just any tandem. Tom was an excellent tandem captain and I fully trusted him. After I left Seattle in 2014 we kept in touch via email. He called me TBA (tandem buddy Adair) and signed his emails TBT (tandem buddy Tom). My heart is broken that Tom is gone when he had so much life and love left to give this world. Whenever I hear the song "Walkin' on Sunshine" I will remember Tom, and of course, every time I see a tandem will think of him and our rides on "The Wild Thing." Rest in peace, TBT. You will be missed.

Jennie Romich

a truly good soul

What sad and unexpected news! Tom was my favorite person to run into in the School of Social Work mailroom. I will miss his gentle good humor, insightful wit, and always-surprising range of expertise. He enriched our work community and so many other groups in his life. I wish for comfort for all of those mourning him, particularly his closest people.


Jesse Williams

Fond memories of Tom

I’m saddened to hear of Tom’s passing but remember him fondly. I lived at the Wayfarer for a few years and benefited greatly from both his leadership and service to the Co-op and also enjoyed some nice bike rides with our neighbor Adair. I still think of him every time I ride under the little bridge in the arboretum. My condolences to his partner and family.

Stephanie Schaefer

He's my brother...

I've known Tom longer than any other living person. I was there on the the day he was born and welcomed him home from the hospital. I probably resented him at first because he stole some of the attention I had been receiving but it was not hard to learn to love him. Tom was, no Tom IS my younger brother. Whenever we talked he would remind me, "This is your MUCH younger brother!" We moved together, , celebrated holidays together, grew up together, suffered the deaths of our parents and brother together, and so much more. Tom was so smart about so many things. He was also stubborn and persistent about the many causes he believed in and was passionate about. Tom loved nature and all aspects of the earth and was adamant about protecting it at all costs. He came to visit me in Charlottesville years ago, taught my 3rd grade class about the ocean, and then gave them all shells. My own children thought he was the "coolest uncle." Over the last 16 years we've been on two different coasts pursuing our own personal lives doing what we love but there was still the connection. I just wish I did not let that happen. If you are reading this...don't let one day pass without telling those you love how much. I could not have had a better little brother than Tom. I'm missing a huge part of my life. ❤️

Mattias Cape

fair winds and following seas, Tom

Tom was the first person to greet me on the docks after I had joined the UW yacht club and I made my way down for open sailing. It was a sunny warm day, I knew next to nothing about sailing, and after talking about the ocean for a short while (we had both studied oceanography) we headed out in and FJ. We chatted, Tom taught me enough to get me going, all the while sharing stories on things he'd done in the area. I knew Tom ever so short a time, but it took only moments to realize he was a bright light who wanted to give back to the world. Big hugs to his loved ones in this time of grief.

J’May Rivara

Teacher to All

We all learned so much from Tom......we had vicarious adventures under the water in exotic places, in the wind sailing or biking, up the mountains . It seems like talking about fun things outside in the beautiful world makes the chore of moving much more fun. Tom was pithy, transparent, knowledgeable about important things, really smart, generous in so many ways and shared much more of himself and what made his heart sing with other people than most of the rest of us do. We will ALL miss him and I know we ALL are so glad he was doing what made his heart sing when we lost him.


Anna P

Remembering Tom

When I joined WYC to learn how to sail, nervous having come from a landlocked place, Tom met me with excitement, kindness, and patience. He wanted everyone to experience the beauty of sailing and gain confidence and skill on the water. I owe my love of sailing to Tom and so many others in the WYC community.

Ken Howee

Tom teaching

I remember Tom always correcting me when I talked about the club's history. I would say "we sailed in the fountain on campus" and Tom would say "you"didn't sail there. Tom will be missed.


Leo N Egashira

Remembering an "old codger" bicyclist

Tom and I probably met when I started work at the Univ. of Washington School of Social Work in Fall 2009, about 12.5 years ago. We had some commonalities that made our conversations lively, funny, and interesting: Our 1954 birthdays are one month apart; we both bicycle daily and have managed to keep lean in our 60s; we both enjoy outdoor activities, especially hiking; and we both have awful / sarcastic senses of humor. While I bicycle commute daily because I don't own a car, Tom did weekly "century rides" (100+ miles) and he would tell me about them nearly every week. (In contrast, the longest bike rides I've ever done are 60 miles.) So, you bet that I appreciated stories of his rides, and am in awe of his bicycling prowess! He also captivated me as he regaled his adventures scuba-diving in Mexico and the Caribbean. I will certainly miss Tom as a good friend, and I offer my heartfelt condolences to Grace, whom I never met. But Tom mentioned Grace a lot as they did tandem bicycling, snow-shoeing, and hiking together. Requiescat in pace.

After I suffered a bad wrist fracture in a 2015 bicycle accident that kept me away from work for three months, Tom offered to accompany me on my first five-mile bicycle commute home from the UW to the Central District. He was patient and encouraging, and helped me regain my confidence in bicycling. I cannot thank him enough for that!

Dave Swartz

Here are some photos of Tom sailing.  Most were from a trip to Princess Louisa Inlet.  Tom had a great time on this trip.  He very much enjoyed seeing the Orcas.  The two waterfall photos I included were photos taken by Tom himself.  On another trip he was hosted in the Bosuns chair out over the water from the mast head of the healing boat.  Tom was always one to enjoy adventure.  I have also included a photo of Talaria (blue hulled boat) sailing back from Blake Island.  Of the boats in the club this was his favorite. 

He will be missed.


Susan Price, Richards Petters, and Gus Jansson on behalf of COGS, Cyclists of Greater Seattle

Here are some memories from COGS folks:


  • Tom’s ability to carry on a non-stop conversation up a 10% grade and never run out of breath.

  • On his old red steel-framed bike, he could outride most folks on a carbon fiber or a titanium bike.

  • Tom rarely finished a ride with the group. He would dutifully ride to the start, be there on time, but had so much energy and   enthusiasm that he usually ended up riding off on some longer and/or hillier variation.

  • Tom had an amazing record of riding a century every month of each year. When circumstances forced him to break his streak, it wasn’t long before he started a new streak.

  • Tom never met a hill he didn’t want to ride. He was always game for a “diabolical” ride involving a ridiculous amount of hill climbing, especially when it involved Cougar or Squak mountains.

  • Tom had a special “deal” with the big hill on Juanita Drive. He’d wait for you at the top, but riding up the hill he always gave it his all. His all meant the rest of us were usually left way behind.

  • Tom loved RAMROD and rode it whenever the lottery provided an opportunity.

  • Some people track their steps each day. Tom always knew how many miles he’d ridden so far that year, on each of his three bikes.

  • Tom loved the 520-bridge bike trail and many of his bike routes involved at least one crossing on the 520 trail.

  • Tom had favorite trees along many of his rides that he liked to point out so others could enjoy them too.

  • Tom rarely bought anything new. Whatever he needed, especially bicycle parts, he acquired from sources like eBay, Craig’s List, and Recycled Cycles. He was generous with the treasures he found, giving things to friends who could use the items he didn’t need.

  • In addition to cycling, Tom loved sailing and diving. He participated in volunteer fish surveys and could tell you about the health problems of the sea star population and the health status of various coral reefs. He particularly liked diving trips to Mexico.

  • Tom was a natural teacher. At various times he taught an introductory course in the Oceanography department at the University of Washington and taught marine science to fifth graders in local schools as a part of The Seattle Aquarium and Pacific Marine Research.

Tom Tanner

Tom was a GREAT PERSON in so many and varied ways. He loved life and lived it to the fullest. He was not only charismatic in his own uniquely iconic and charming ways, but he was a charming, friendly, kind, and yes loving. Loving of life, loving of his many and varied hobbies and activities, and loving of the multitude of people drawn to his wonderful personality and knowledge of his passionate activities and hobbies. I knew him as a cyclist through the COGS bicycle club. Cycling was one of his many loves and he was an expert at it. He gladly and enthusiastically shared his extensive knowledge about cycling, routes he found particularly enjoyable and most importantly the joy and fun one could experience through cycling. Tom will be greatly missed for many reasons; for sure he will be missed by all his COGS cycling friends. May Tom rest in peace with the knowledge his contributions enriched so many of our lives.

Kathy O’Hara

Tom and Evan Abramsom were my dive buddies and dear friends. Tom shared his fish geek knowledge with me on REEF trips—he called me ‘O’Fish,’ I called him ‘Coach.’ Having Tom as a friend was a true gift. Evan was brilliant with a keen wit—he always made us laugh as he often questioned fish ID names that seemed to make no sense to him at all. Our blue planet was so fortunate to have both Tom and Evan onboard—we will miss you dear friends.💔💙💙💦

Kristi Draper

Tom loved Isla Mujeres

Tom knew a batik artist on Isla Mujeres and gave a beautiful handmade batik to my mom's caregiver, Ixcel Suances, during one of the Isla Mujeres trips we took with Tom.

Tristan Fields

Good Bye Tom

We were so lucky to spend time with Tom in the last few years. He was a warm, intelligent, wonderful soul who told amazing stories. We loved having him as part of our friend group. And we loved seeing what a fantastic partner he was for Grace. He is loved and will be deeply missed. Our lives were touched and will never be the same.

Stacey DeFries

Tom was a generous man. He spent time helping me to figure out what bike to buy and was always willing to share his ideas to make the bike commute to UW more efficient. Tom also inspired me and others at the School of Social Work to try out sailing- something none is us would have tried without his guidance. He quiet support and guidance helped us tackle new skills and opportunities. Tom will be missed and his generous spirit lives on.


Tom, my heart aches to know that you are gone. Thank you for being my biking and U-District friend and colleague for over a decade. On foot or bike, during the week and on weekends, I loved all the times we would run into each other in the neighborhood. I could always depend on you for a smile and a wave. You were special to me and I will miss you.

Bethany Hamamoto

Tom was one of the first people I encountered when I started working at the School of Social Work in 2016. He was upbeat and caring from the very beginning when he was helping me to set up my office. He would stop by all the time to give me updates about his latest bike ride adventure or talk about something crazy that was rocking the fish population research community. He also frequently volunteered to help get me off of all the annoying mailing lists that kept sending me advertisements at the School so that there would be less waste sent straight into the garbage/recycling bins. Even on the days where he was frustrated with all of the red tape at the university, he was passionate about what he did. One day I remember he was looking around for a very specific tool that had been misplaced and he told me, "I hope no one has absconded with it. Isn't 'absconded' a great word?" He found the tool later in the day and stopped by my office to let me know. I thought it was hilarious how deeply he cared for his tools, but that just made sense when you see how he interacted with the world around him. Tom was almost as much of an institution as the School itself in many ways. He will be greatly missed and his absence will be strongly felt. I wish for healing for his niece, partner, and other friends who will also have a hole in their hearts from his passing.

Jane Lee

Tom was among the first to welcome me to the School of Social Work when I arrived in Seattle in 2017. I immediately felt comfortable talking with him--he was so warm, so easy to connect with, and such a kind person. We chatted about our hobbies, and I remember admiring his adventurous spirit. He helped me set up my office and I looked forward to running into him in the halls and catching up about what we did over the weekend. I remember I once saw him cycling up 15th Avenue and was so impressed! His presence and energy taught me a lot about what it means to make the most of each day and to be genuine in every interaction. He truly exuded kindness, and I will miss his presence at the school.

Aimee Schantz

What a tragedy for the universe.
I got to know Tom through the UW sailing club. He was one of the most lovely souls I have ever met and a wonderful sailor. I am devastated by this news. My heart goes out to his loved one.

Romain Camilleri

I will miss Tom
Tom was one of my favorite person to go sailing in the Puget Sounds with and sailing with him will always remain a very big part of my happy memories of the WYC

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