Judge Harold Arthur “Tom” Thomson, Jr., 87, loving husband, father, grandfather, brother, cousin, uncle and friend, died in Green Bay, WI on January 21, 2022.
Tom was born on September 15, 1934, in Upper Darby, PA, the son of Harold Arthur Thomson, Sr. and Myrtle McCullam Thomson. Throughout his life, Tom talked about his admiration for his parents, and up to his final days would share his fond memories of his childhood. Tom graduated from Tredyffrin-Easttown High School in Paoli, PA in 1952, and went on to Pennsylvania State University, where he was a member of Beta Theta Pi Fraternity. He broke up his college years with two years serving in the Army in the Korean War, and after his service, completed a B.S. in Insurance in 1959 at Penn State; and a J.D. from Dickinson School of Law in 1962. In 1964, he married Sara Jane “Sally” Sanderson in San Diego. He and Sally raised six daughters and were married for 56 years until her death in March 2021.
Tom began his distinguished career in public service as a Special Agent with the FBI and with assignments in San Diego, CA, and New Orleans and Shreveport, LA. In 1966 he and Sally moved to Paupack, PA to raise a family. With his friends Bill Gumble and Jack Linshaw, Tom founded the “Gumble, Thomson, and Linshaw Law Offices.” He was elected Pike County District Attorney in 1972 and served as President of the Pennsylvania District Attorney’s association in 1976. In 1977, Tom was elected Judge to the Court of Common Pleas of the 42nd District, serving both Monroe and Pike Counties. Fulfilling his campaign’s promise, Tom focused on making Pike County its own Judicial District, and in 1982 he became the first President Judge of the new 60th Judicial District, based in Milford, PA.
Tom thrived at being a judge and brought his passion for the law and life into the Pike County Courthouse. He was known for his jovial personality around the Courthouse and was often heard singing show tunes in the Judge's Chambers and to his law clerks, administrators, and visiting lawyers. He was known to start court sessions with trivia questions often about history or law. Although outside the Courtroom he was a beacon of levity, he became a formidable presence once the gavel dropped.
As proud as Tom was of his career, his real passions were for life– his family, friends, travel, history, reading, movies, music, and any and all fun made Tom tick. A tuba and sousaphone player since childhood, Tom was a member of the Hawley Old Timers Band, playing in the Hawley, PA annual Fourth of July parade for years. He loved music, especially John Phillip Sousa marching band music and Scottish bagpipes, on high volume on weekend mornings while his teenage daughters tried to sleep. A good marching band number or symphony would move Tom to tears. He loved movies, especially those by Mel Brooks. He could recite the entire script of The Producers, singing the entire soundtrack any chance he got.
Tom’s affinity for travel and curiosity about the world was unmatched. He and Sally traveled the United States and the world. He was known for impromptu trips, whether those trips were with his entire family to Manhattan for some Chinese food and a Broadway play, or to Canada to see Parliament during the dead of winter. If it was a road trip, a stop at a Civil War Battlefield was guaranteed, often to the chagrin of his patient wife and not- so-patient daughters. Tom developed a love of trains as a child, and that love stayed with him throughout his life. One of his favorite sayings was “Why fly when you can go by train?”. He relished in experiencing the countryside fly past while viewing from an observation car, most likely with a scotch in hand.
Tom was an excellent gardener. Every summer he tended to his robust vegetable garden, and the harvest rounded out many Thomson family meals. And Tom loved dogs. Not just any dogs, but mutts, the scruffier the better. He loved their expressions, their shared joy of life, their affinity for being with their loved ones, and their ability to discern human emotions. His favorites were two he had after his daughters were grown: Danny the Wonder Mutt and Toby the Loyal.
In January 2003, Tom transitioned to a role he loved as a senior judge. He served across Pennsylvania while scratching his travel itch. In 2012, Tom retired, and he and Sally moved to Fredericksburg, VA to be closer to their children and growing number of grandchildren. Tom immersed himself in the local Civil War Roundtable, the Masons, and volunteered at the Railroad Museum. In 2020, he, Sally, and Toby, moved to the Bellevue Retirement Community in Green Bay, WI, where they were cared for and supported by their daughter Heather and her husband Todd.
Tom is survived by his daughters; Ingrid Thomson of Washington, D.C., Tracey Flood (Edmund) of Havertown, PA, Laura Walters (Travis) of Sarasota, FL, Heather Piontek (Todd) of Green Bay, WI, Holly Clark (Barry) of Fredericksburg, VA, and Margaret “Meg” Thomson (David Schmid) of Durham, NC. He is survived by eleven grandchildren; Maxwell Piontek, Sara Walters, Ethan, Madeline and Audrey Flood, Benjamin Piontek, Marin Walters, Jasper Schmid, Liam Clark, Lucy and Charlotte Clark, his sister, Leatrice Bemus of Westport, CT, cousins David Hopkins of VA and Susan van Vonno of FL, and his beloved loyal canine Toby. In addition to his parents and his wife Sally, he was predeceased by his cousins Virginia Lobb and Elaine Bausewine.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Tom’s memory to the Pike County Humane Society in Shohola, PA:
A memorial will be held at The Pike County Courthouse in Milford, PA on Saturday, February 19 at 3:00 PM.
Tom’s daughters would like to thank the staff at Bellevue Senior Living for their care and kindness to their dad during the last year of his life.