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2217 F.M. 3009
Schertz, TX 78154
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Thomas Whalen

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Thomas Whalen Obituary
Home is the sailor,
home from the sea
Her far-borne canvas furled

A member of the World War II generation who valued God, family and country above all else, Thomas Peter Whalen of Schertz died at the age of 87 on July 30, 2010.

Visitation will be held at Schertz Funeral Home from 5 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, August 4. Rosary will begin at 7 p.m. Schertz Funeral Home is located at 2217 FM 3009, Schertz, TX, 78154.

Funeral services will be held at 9:15 Thursday, August 5 at his long-time church home, Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Schertz. Burial will follow at 10:45 a.m. at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio.

Tom was born December 3, 1922, in Hoboken, New Jersey, the third son of Peter and Mary Goggin Whalen. He grew up in a large Irish Catholic family with four brothers and two sisters, learning to cook after his mother's death in 1933. He attended Hoboken schools.

Tom enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1942, spending more than three years in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Most of his service was on the minesweeper YMS-365, which cleared harbors and bays after the Marines had taken an island. He was proud of his World War II service but didn't go into many details about what he had seen during the war.

Tom married his lifelong love, Rita Garille Whalen, on June 1, 1946, at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Hoboken. He re-enlisted in the Navy that year and was posted to California, Saipan, Cuba, Rhode Island and Florida. He also served on the aircraft carrier Shangri-la, the Mauna Loa and the Jupiter. He was trained as an electrician and retired honorably in 1964 with the rank of Chief Petty Officer after 22 years of service to his country.

Tom, Rita and their six children settled in Tampa, Florida, after his Navy retirement. He worked as a journeyman electrician at Florida Steel in Tampa until 1972, when the family moved to Schertz and he became the maintenance supervisor at Structural Metals, Inc. in Seguin. He later had several other jobs, including installing security systems for QCI Inc., in San Antonio, working into his 70's before retiring.

Tom was a long-time member of Knights of Columbus Council 6358, serving as Grand Knight in 1975 and attaining the rank of Fourth Degree, and was active in its charitable works. He also volunteered at Brooke Army Medical Center, "helping the old people out" well into his 80s.

Living in land-locked Schertz the last part of his life, Tom made frequent trips to the Texas coast to fish, boat and enjoy fresh seafood. He was never happier than when he was with his family, a cold beer in his hand and a sea breeze in his hair. One of his final trips to the sea was with his entire family to Key West in 2006 to celebrate his and Rita's 60th anniversary.

The quintessential garrulous Irish American, Tom's sense of humor and optimism were legendary among his family and friends. He was a master of the teasing put-on. Some of his signature phrases - "Don't worr' about it" and "Hang in there, it gets better" among them - will live on and help us deal with his recent dementia-related decline and death. His family is left bereft but happy and proud for a long, well-lived life.

Tom is survived by wife Rita of Schertz; sister Margaret Kurz of Ocala, FL; children Daniel Whalen and wife Maureen Behan of Houston, Christine Young and husband Michael of Schertz, Mary Swift of Schertz, Philip Whalen and wife Daria of Cibolo, Regina Maxfield and husband Mike of Atlanta, GA, and Ken Whalen and wife Jackie of Austin; ten grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents; brothers Peter, Joseph, William and James; and sister Veronica.

Those wishing to make a charitable donation in Tom's name may do so to the Good Shepherd Catholic Church Building Fund, 1065 East Live Oak Road, Schertz, TX 78454.

Published in Express-News on Aug. 3, 2010
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