Thomas Sturgess

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Thomas W. Sturgess, 80, of O'Fallon, passed away peacefully at his home on Sept. 28, 2013. Tom was born August 21, 1933 in Durant, Okla., the oldest of five children.

He was the first in his family to attend college, being awarded a scholarship to Southern Methodist University where he earned a Bachelor of Music degree and an Officer's Commission through ROTC. Later he received a Master of Arts in Government from Webster University. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force in 1955, where he launched a twenty-three year career.

He began his military service as a pilot, flying primarily the C-124, the C-47, and the C-121R aircraft, with over 10,000 hours of flight time traveling to destinations around the world. During the Vietnam War he flew 148 combat missions and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and other medals and honors. At the height of the Cold War, Tom took a hiatus from flying to serve as a Missile Commander for the Titan II nuclear missile program. Later he was Director of Internal Information for the Military Airlift Command, where he was proud to serve as Public Affairs Officer during Operation Homecoming, the return of our Vietnam Prisoners of War.

He culminated his distinguished Air Force career as Director of Information for the Military Airlift Command. Tom began an equally successful second career with the Bi-State Development Agency of St. Louis, in 1979, as Director of Communications.

He worked for the Agency 23 years, ending as Deputy General Manager and Assistant to the Executive Director. Among his many achievements was assisting with the planning and construction of the MetroLink Light Rail System. Tom was a gifted tenor and frequent soloist throughout the region.

He was a member of the First United Methodist Church of O'Fallon, Ill., where he served as Chancel Choir Director for over 30 years. He was also a member of the Masterworks Chorale in Belleville.

He greatly enjoyed collecting and listening to music, writing, playing squash at the Missouri Athletic Club in St. Louis, gardening, rock polishing, and spending precious time with his loving wife and family. He particularly cherished yearly vacations in northern Michigan and annual family reunions at a lake house on Table Rock Lake in southwest Missouri.

Tom had a remarkable work ethic, giving every endeavor 100%. His zest for life was boundless, captured by a favorite saying "you don't stop playing because you grow old; you grow old because you stop playing." But those who knew him best were most touched by the length, depth and breadth of his love for, and devotion to his wife of 58 years, whom he adored. Tom was preceded in death by his father, Gaylord Weldon Sturgess, his mother, Irene, nee Aven, Sturgess, and sister, Evelyn Jean Knight.

Surviving are his wife, Joyce, nee Edwards, Sturgess; his son William David (Pamela) Sturgess of O'Fallon, Mo.; his daughter Laura (David) Fiaoni, of Arlington, Tex., his son, Steven (Terri) Sturgess of Jefferson City, Mo.; grandchildren, Jamie, nee Sturgess, (Robert) Dunahoo, of Fenton, Mo., Christopher Sturgess of Nashville, Tenn., Kayla Sturgess of Fenton, Mo.; Robert and Thomas Fiaoni of Arlington, Tex.; Jessica Sturgess of Kansas City, Mo., Emily Sturgess of Columbia, Mo., and Rebecca Sturgess of Jefferson City, Mo., and his great grandchildren, Jett and Rylee Donahoo of Fenton, Mo.; He is also survived by his brothers Jack H. Sturgess of Paris, Tex.; Gaylord A. Sturgess of Arlington, Tex.; and his sister Carolyn Sue Reue of Garland, Tex.

Memorial donations are suggested to O'Fallon First United Methodist Church or Hospice of Southern Illinois. Condolences may be extended to the family by visiting

Visitation: Friends may call after 2:00 p.m., Saturday, October 19, 2013, at O'Fallon First United Methodist Church. Funeral: A Memorial Service will begin at 3:00 p.m., Saturday, October 19, 2013 at the church, with Rev. Dr. Joel Catlin officiating. A reception will follow.

Arrangements entrusted to Wolfersberger Funeral Home, O'Fallon, IL

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Wolfersberger Funeral Home - O'Fallon
102 West Washington Street
O'Fallon, IL 62269
(618) 632-3681
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Published in Durant Daily Democrat from Oct. 6 to Oct. 7, 2013
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