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LT. COL., (RET) , USAF
Ocala - Thomas O'Rourke, 90, passed away on Saturday, May 18, 2013, at Legacy Hospice House, in Ocala, Florida. He was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, May 25, 1922, to parents Edward and Mildred Bowser O'Rourke.
Tom learned to fly prior to joining the United States Air Force, then experiencing the joy of serving his country in the USAF while living the excitement and drama of overseas deployment. He flew the P51 Mustang in the service, and this experience became the core of his later memories. Stationed at Wright Patterson AF Base in Dayton, Ohio, in 1956 he and wife, Bobbye entered and won the wildly popular television quiz show, "$64,000 Question."
He retired after nearly 23 years of active duty and settled with his young family in Naples, Florida. He and Bobbye formed Talisman, a company producing fiberglass panels and designer artifacts. Real estate sales in Florida became his forte in this second career, selling homes and sites from Marco Island and Naples to Quail Creek and Bonita Bay.
He retired in 1990 and with his wife Elizabeth, moved to Golden Hills Golf and Country Club in Ocala, Florida, where golf and its social life together with his love for model railroads were embraced with enthusiasm.
Creative writing showcased his ability to weave stories with great imagination and imagery as only a man of Irish ancestry can do. Tom's gregariousness made him popular with the men, and his charisma charmed the women. Some thought him a little outrageous and others enjoyed his honest friendship and love of life.
He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth A. Ross O'Rourke, and children, Robin Petersen (David), Naples, Fla. and Big Canoe, Ga.; Susan O'Rourke, Naples, Fla.; Michael E. O'Rourke (Ann), Stone Mountain, Ga.; Cynthia A. Frost, New Smyrna Beach, Fla., Deborah L. Williams (Terry C.) , Deland, Fla.; and Gary D. Ross (Shirley), Longwood, Fla.; tengrandchildren, seven much loved great grandchildren; and best brother-in-law, Ernest Gudridge, Fort Myers, Fla.
He was preceded in death by wife, Bobbye, brother Edward O'Rourke, III, and sister, Sara Kaltenmark.
Those who wish may make contributions in Tom's name to Hospice of Marion County, Legacy House, Ocala, Florida. Please visit:
to offer memories, remarks and condolences.
Published in Ocala Star-Banner from May 26 to May 27, 2013