May 7, 1938 - April 17, 2017
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
is preceded in death by his son, Steve Arrington in 2013.
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.
lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to First United Methodist
Church, 701 Calder Avenue, Beaumont, Texas 77701. (www.fumcbeaumont.org)
bless and keep you always, Tom. See you