Thomas Stelzner died unexpectedly on Friday evening May 3, at age 89. A native of Bakersfield, he graduated from Berkeley High School and the University of California, and he like many other young men, spent two years in the service putting his studies on hold beginning in 1944.
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After Tom's time in the navy he married his fiancée, Mary Watty, in Berkeley, in June of 1946 and the following year he graduated from Cal with a degree in mechanical engineering. His thirty-eight year career at Chevron began in Southern California. When Buena Park incorporated in 1953, twenty-seven year old Tom was elected and subsequently reelected to the first city council of that new city.
His work took him from Southern California to the Alaskan Arctic at Deadhorse and Kotsebue, to the Canadian bush at Kaybob, Alberta, where his family joined him in Edmonton for two years. Perhaps the most exotic place he worked was in Sudan, both in Khartoum and in the south, now South Sudan. Only three months after he returned to the States, Chevron evacuated all the Americans as the civil war resumed and threatened their safety.
In San Francisco he rejoined the offshore technology group and before he retired in 1985 his final project was in the Atlantic out of St. Johns, Newfoundland.
In retirement he exchanged his hard hat for a broad brimmed straw hat while he developed his farm near Sebastopol from grassland to a homestead with a comfortable home, barn and red tractor. His farming days ended in 1995 when he and Mary moved to a new home in Petaluma.
Tom was a loving and devoted husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather. He was proud to be an Eagle Scout and at home in the outdoors so that every camping trip with his family was an adventure. Beginning in Southern California and extending throughout the west to the Canadian Rockies, each summer Tom packed the station wagon for his family with an engineer's precision and creativity including, all the gear required for their comfort and safety.
Tom is survived by his dearly beloved wife, Mary, of sixty six years, and his six children including Patricia Braly, M.D., and her husband David Powers, M.D.of New Orleans: Marilyn Stelzner and her husband James Wampler of Geneva, Switzerland: Kathleen Borreson and her husband Robert Borreson of Bon Accord, Alberta, Canada; Robert Stelzner and his wife, Trisha Healy of Hayward; Janet Rose and her husband, David Rose, of Pleasant Hill; and Gregory Stelzner and his wife, Shelley, of Vacaville. His seventeen grandchildren include: Thomas, Timothy, and Gregory Borreson; Allison Cheatwood, Kristen Peterson, Matthew and Tori Powers; Lisa, Laura and Julie Stelzner; Jamie and Claire Wampler; Kaelynn and Aaron Rose; Ryan, Marc and Charles Stelzner. His great grandchildren are Thomas Borreson II, Hanley and Lelia Cheatwood, and Tanner Peterson.
Friends and family are invited to attend the Visitation, Thursday, May 9, 2013 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. with a Vigil Service at 7:00 p.m. at the PARENT-SORENSEN MORTUARY & CREMATORY, 850 Keokuk St., Petaluma. The Funeral Mass will be said on Friday, May 10, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. at St. James Catholic Church, 125 Sonoma Mountain Pkwy., Petaluma.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Petaluma Valley Hospital Foundation, Doctors Without Borders or a
Published in Petaluma Argus-Courier from May 9 to June 8, 2013