Thomas ""Tom"" Francis Kerby
Nov. 6, 1915-Dec. 4, 2012
Thomas ""Tom"" Francis Kerby, 97, of Farmington passed away early Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012, in his home, surrounded by his family.
On Nov. 6, 1915, a hefty ten pound Thomas Francis was born to delighted new parents, Thomas Washington Kerby and Josephine Mortenson, on a dairy farm in Morenci, Ariz. They soon moved their dairy operation to the Douglas, Ariz. area where Tom spent all of his school years milking cows at 2 a.m. each morning and then delivering the milk before school.
After high school, Tom turned down a chemistry scholarship to Cal Poly to serve a mission for his church. He served for two and a half years in the Spanish-speaking Mexican Mission.
A few years after his return, he married Evelyn Hathcock Sept. 18, 1940 in the Mesa Arizona Temple. They farmed in Arizona for five years before moving to Farmington in 1945 where they purchased 80 acres of sand and rocks and began preparing it to become the Kerby Orchard.
Tom was known as a rather determined (stubborn) hard worker and those tenacious efforts finally provided a beautiful and successful orchard business for his growing family.
Though not a large man, he possessed incredible physical strength and stamina. Into his 60's, he could still buck heavy hay bales onto the haywagon! In lean years, he worked a second job as a bricklayer to supplement the farm income.
Tom and Evelyn had ten children (who eventually tempered him in patience). His life was not without great challenges, for he lost all of the fingers on his right hand in a corn picker in 1972 and eventually lost two of his sons.
Tom was an Eagle Scout and served faithfully in service to his church throughout his long life. He was a voracious reader and loved to talk politics and philosophy or just about anything. He loved to talk.
Through the years, other Farmington fruit growers sold out to developers leaving Kerby Orchard as the main source of local fruit. Twenty acres still remain in peach, pear, plum, apricot and apple trees.
However, the years of hard work took a toll on this tough man. His once strong and limber frame began to bend and arthritic pain became his companion. He always said he was sure ""it was better to wear his body out than to let it rust out."" And wear it out he did! He leaves behind the ""fruits"" of his labor, a beautiful orchard, eight children, 37 grandchildren, 78 great-grandchildren and 7 great-great grandchildren which have brought him immense joy and satisfaction.
Tom is survived by three sisters, Velma Drake, Manell Hall and Neva Brimhall (Dwayne); eight children, Carolyn Alger (Don), Thomas A. Kerby (June), Janet Sherman (Alan), Joanne Durkovich (Matthew), Walter Kerby (Lori), Mary Woodard (Steve), Leslie Kerby (Roxanne) and Steven Kerby.
Tom was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 66 years, Evelyn, in 2006; two sons, Glenn Francis and Loren Ray Kerby and three sisters, Nola Smith, Merle Taylor and Martha Packard.
Visitation will be 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 7, at Brewer, Lee and Larkin Funeral Home.
Funeral services will be 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8, at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 400 West Apache Street in Farmington.
Interment will follow at Greenlawn Cemetery.
Tom's care is entrusted to Brewer, Lee and Larkin Funeral Home, 103 E. Ute St. in Farmington, 505-325-8688.
Those who wish to express their condolences may do so at www.serenityandcompany.com