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Thomas James Sinna

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Thomas James Sinna 1932-2013 Thomas James Sinna, a long time resident of San Rafael, cashed in his chips June 9th, after years of declining health at the age of 80. Born September 14, 1932 in Shoreview, Minnesota, Tom spent a childhood filled with the chores necessary to run his family's 100 acre dairy farm. His jobs included milking the cows (Peachy was an easy milker) and herding them home at the end of day. He buried any cows that died, sometimes with a friend who was an altar boy and could provide the necessary blessing. Additionally, he raised chickens and named his favorite one Alice. Fun times included ice skating in the winter with his younger sister, Jane and fishing for sunfish in the summer with his older brother, Joe. Not only a hard worker; he was also a smart lad and was able to skip the second grade at the one room school house he attended. And yes, getting to school involved walking a mile each way in the lovely Midwestern climate. Neither weather nor illness stopped his zest for learning. When quarantined at home with scarlet fever, he used the family atlas to memorize the rivers of the world. He was class valedictorian of his high school and went on to graduate from the University of Minnesota, after studying math and economics. He enlisted with the U.S. Army and was sent to Korea where he rose to the rank of Second Lieutenant. He was proud of helping nearby residents build a church during his tour of duty, and compared himself to Homer Smith portrayed by Sidney Poitier in the film, "Lilies of the Field". His army travel taught him that not all places had snow in the winter. Upon returning to the farm, he told his mom he would be moving out in six weeks to California. She didn't believe him until she saw his packed car. He drove to San Francisco and got a job at a bank where he met his future wife, Joan Busher. They married, and seeking a sunnier climate with room to grow, moved to San Rafael where they raised their two daughters. As a newcomer to the west coast, he continued his studies by memorizing the Sunset Western Garden Guide to help him landscape his garden. He had a fierce loyalty to the Untermann family's West End Nursery. He also built many backyard amusements for his daughters, including a playhouse, swing set, sand box and a see saw. When they outgrew such things, he instructed them to appreciate the fine arts of poker, blackjack, roulette, and gin rummy in addition to the lyrical qualities of The Clancy Brothers, Johnny Cash, Tom T. Hall, and Willie Nelson. Professionally, Tom was Controller of Marin General Hospital for 16 years and later worked as Chief Financial Officer at the law firm Graham & James. He retired early due to his wife's illness. After her death, he found enjoyment in the solitary pursuits of reading books by the mystery writer Robert Parker and solving the daily New York Times crossword puzzle (always in ink). With family, he looked forward to playing Scrabble and cards, often issuing forth the phrase, "pretty good for a country bumpkin". During visits with his youngest daughter he enjoyed waffles and playing gin rummy. And the highlight of every summer was sitting at the Arcata Ballpark cheering on the Humboldt Crabs. He is survived and greatly missed by his daughters Jennifer and Liz, son-in-law David, grandchildren Eric and Lauren, and his sister Jane. He said he would like to be remembered for being a "pretty good guy". The family thanks the staff of Renaissance at Timber Ridge for their attentive and compassionate care during his later years. Funeral services are private. Please sign the guestbook at www.times-standard.com, click on obits.

Published in Eureka Times-Standard on June 16, 2013
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