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Tom Arrington

Tom Arrington
May 7, 1938 - April 17, 2017

From a humble beginning in the hills of Fayette County, West Virginia, Tom Arrington’s early life mirrored that of Homer Hickam’s in the movie October Sky, with one notable exception: Tom’s father did not want him to follow his footsteps into the coal mine, and he actually encouraged him to further his education.  So, Tom pursued his interest in science and mathematics, claimed Mountaineer status, and earned a chemistry degree. 

 

Before that important milestone, however, Tom met the majorette of his dreams, Sandra Ray Beck, at band practice, when he was a junior and she was just a freshman.  Tom was smitten from day one and remained that way throughout their fifty-six year marriage. (Sandra was likewise impassioned.)

 

From where Tom’s family lived at the time, Tom could have gone to either Gauley Bridge High School or Montgomery High.  Montgomery was further away, but he chose it anyway.  Some thought Tom chose Montgomery so he could play basketball; but, more likely, it was his interest in one pretty Montgomery High School band member that made him opt for the longer trek.  Tom and Sandra were married in 1960.

 

Their first two boys, Chris and Scott, were born in Charleston, West Virginia, and, Steve, their third son, was born in Beaumont, Texas.  The young family moved to Beaumont in 1967, when Tom got a new career opportunity as a chemist with Goodrich.  The Arringtons raised their boys in an idyllic “Leave it to Beaver” setting, with Tom working at the plant and Sandra working at home, taking on the primary care of their three boys and the house and, later, her parents.    

 

Tom put all three of his boys through college.  While there, each son also met his future wife.  Three graduations became six, and three weddings followed shortly thereafter.  Tom embraced his expanding family.  He loved his new daughters-in-law and his four grandchildren who called him “Cruiser” because of all the cruises he and Sandra took. 

 

By this time, Tom had retired from his position at Valspar and Sandra had retired from her job with The State.  Bitten by the travel bug, Tom and Sandra decided to become travel agents. They helped groups and individuals enjoy new experiences and see amazing parts of the world through cruises.  They took many cruises themselves as well.  And, they met wonderful people everywhere they went—some of whom even visited them in Beaumont and stayed in touch over the years.

 

Tom enjoyed life fully and he approached it with certain gusto.  One time in Las Vegas, he even sang on stage with The Lettermen!  And, while he never fulfilled his fantasy of running with the bulls in Pamplona—he explored the Amazon rainforest and the Giza pyramids of ancient Egypt, he viewed the tallest waterfall in the world, Angel Falls, from his seat on a tiny charter plane and walked the Great Wall of China, he swam with stingrays in the Cayman Islands and tried to avoid run-ins with the wild monkeys in Gibraltar, and so much more.  He and Sandra even went on a seventy-five day world cruise and back-to-back Baltic cruises.  And, wherever they were, Tom loved meeting the locals, and learning about their culture and customs, and trying their food.  Back home, he loved talking with friends and neighbors and with people he met during the course of his day.  Back home he favored mustard on his beans, salt on his watermelon, butter pecan ice cream, and all you-can-eat crawfish.

 

Tom also loved visiting relatives—especially his sister, Nancy, and her husband (the other Tom)—and meeting up with old friends.  He and Sandra went together to their own class reunions—but they were also regularly invited to and attended other people’s class reunions—probably because they were so personable and fun to be around! 

 

Tom certainly enjoyed spending lots of time with his family, too.  He joined them on vacations and holidays.  He watched them dance and act and play sports.  He helped them learn to fish and crab and was infinitely patient with them.  Once he even sacrificed his thumbnail to the crushing grip of a large blue crab in order to “rescue” a frightened daughter-in-law who was new to the sport.  He enjoyed playing games with family members too, even the children.  Tom was super smart and had terrific recall.  He was definitely the guy you wanted to have as your Trivial Pursuit partner (although not so much as your Pictionary partner, since every animal he drew looked the same!).

 

On a somewhat surprising note, Tom knew nearly everything there was to know about bromeliads and he was just as comfortable tending a garden at home as he was playing craps at a casino.  He liked reading historical novels and non-fiction books.  He also enjoyed epic movies like Lawrence of Arabia and The Godfather.  But, he had a funny bone, too, and he thoroughly enjoyed watching episodes of Seinfeld and an occasional sophomoric movie like Weekend at Bernie’s and contemplating the ever-present unofficial “funniest Arrington” contest.   Tom’s taste in music ran the gamut as well: from Vikki Carr to Herman’s Hermits to Zamfir.  He went to many concerts with artists from the Sixties and Seventies but he enjoyed the music of the Fifties the most; it was the music of his youth.  His favorite song was “In the Still of the Night” by The Five Satins.  He and Sandra considered it “their” song.

 

Tom was also a Christian who was good with God.  He was not afraid of dying, nor was he afraid to talk about his faith.  In fact, Tom was good at sharing his faith and good at letting others share theirs with him. 

 

Since their arrival in Beaumont nearly fifty years ago, Tom and Sandra have been active members of First United Methodist Church.  Before Tom got leukemia, he was a volunteer driver for people with cancer and helped serve meals at FUMC’s soup kitchen.  He also helped count the Sunday offering plate and thoroughly enjoyed time spent in and out of church with his Sunday school class.  For years, Tom helped with the church’s estate sale group and, more recently, he assisted with estate sales benefiting Young Life.

 

Tom was loving and kind and humble and very very special.  He was a strong and positive role model who led by encouragement and example—but he also recognized and appreciated the value of the contributions of others.  He will be sorely missed.  Thankfully, we will always be blessed with our wonderful memories of him and the many ways he enriched our lives. 

 

Mr. Arrington is survived by his wife, Sandra Arrington of Beaumont; sons, Chris Arrington and his wife, Kim, of Irving, Texas and Scott Arrington and his wife, Carrie, of Rockport; daughter-in-law, Karen Arrington of Lumberton; sister, Nancy Daniels and her husband, Tom, of Raleigh, North Carolina; and grandchildren, Will Arrington and his wife, Elyse; Haley Arrington; Claire Arrington; and Aaron Arrington. 

 

He is preceded in death by his son, Steve Arrington in 2013.

 

A gathering of his family and friends will be 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m., Wednesday, April 19, 2017, at Broussard’s, 1605 North Major Drive, Beaumont. A memorial service will be 11:00 a.m. Thursday, April 20, 2017, at First United Methodist Church, 701 Calder Avenue, Beaumont. Mr. Arrington’s body was donated to the Willed Body Program at Baylor College of Medicine.

 

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to First United Methodist Church, 701 Calder Avenue, Beaumont, Texas 77701. (www.fumcbeaumont.org)

 

God bless and keep you always, Tom.   See you later.







 
 

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