Ernest Thomas Wightman Jr.
1943 - 2020
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Ernest Thomas Wightman Jr. ARLINGTON--Ernest Thomas Wightman Jr. came into this world on May 24, 1943, and passed on to Heaven on Thursday, June 18, 2020. CELEBRATION OF LIFE: A celebration of Tom's life will be held at some point in the future, and he will be buried at Lexington Cemetery. MEMORIALS: In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in honor of Dr. Tom Wightman to First United Methodist Church of Arlington, 313 N. Center St., Arlington, TX, 76011-7593 or Arlington Rotary Scholarship Foundation Webb Scholarship Fund (please mail to Walter Virden, 1205 South Bowen, Arlington, TX, 76013). Along the way, Tom touched the lives of countless family members, friends, and patients. He was a devoted husband of 54 years, an incredible father, amazing granddad, and a wonderful friend to so many. Tom had numerous passions, including being an accomplished pilot with thousands of hours in various airplanes, an avid fisherman, a national and state park enthusiast, an award-winning photographer, a World War II history buff, a wonderful supporter/photographer of his children's and grandchildren's sports or events, and most recently, a bird watcher. Tom had a huge heart, a moral compass like no other, a great sense of humor, and was always ready to help. He taught his grandchildren numerous things, helped with many projects, and was their biggest fan. Tom loved his children, grandchildren, and granddog, but he loved his wife even more. He had a huge collection of dear friends and family, who were incredibly supportive during his final months. The family is grateful for the wonderful assistance of caregiver Maria. Surrounded by the love of his family, Tom was a doer and a fighter until the very end. Tom was born in Morgantown, W.Va., to Ernest T. Wightman Sr. and Mildred Read Wightman. He graduated Lafayette Junior High (where he met his future wife) and Lafayette High School in Lexington, Ky. He was a decorated swimmer with multiple state records, which helped Tom secure a swimming scholarship to the University of Kentucky. Tom had the largest newspaper route in the city and earned the rank of Eagle Scout. As an Assistant Scout Master of Troop #363, he and others were featured in "Boys Life Magazine," as it chronicled "Operation Huskey," a three-month, coast-to-coast journey with 33 Boy Scouts, who cooked out and camped each night. In 1961, Tom graduated from LHS and enrolled at UK. While swimming all four years at UK, he majored in physics, was a member of the Air Force ROTC, and was also a professional photographer. ROTC included flying lessons at Bluegrass Field in Lexington, Ky., and a lifelong passion for flying was ignited. After graduating from UK, Tom was sent to pilot training at Laredo Air Force Base, where he trained in T-37s and T-38s. He married the love of his life, Dot, in May 1966. Following pilot training, Tom was stationed at McChord Air Force Base in Tacoma, Wash., where he flew C-141s. During the Vietnam War, Tom served a year in country as a forward air controller flying the O1. He separated from the Air Force with the rank of major to start a family and attend the University of Kentucky Medical School. They were blessed with two beloved children - their daughterm, Jennifer (born January 1971), and their son, Thomas (born January 1974). While at UK Medical School, he flew RF101s and F4s for the Kentucky Air National Guard and was the subject of several military publications highlighting the "Flying Doctor's" experience. After medical school, Tom started his medical career in the emergency room at Central Baptist Hospital in Lexington, Ky., and then moved into private practice. In 1986, he accepted a position in the American Airlines Medical Department and moved the family to Arlington, Texas. In 1990, Tom joined the Air Force Reserves at Carswell Air Force Base, where he served for several years, including active duty in Operation Desert Storm. Tom subsequently went back into private practice and was known for his sincere empathy and comforting bedside manner. He helped others as a trusted and valued medical advisor and mentored young healthcare professionals. In addition, he flew Angel Flight patients to treatments, volunteered at a local free clinic, and participated on mission trips to Honduras. Tom also found time to make lasting memories through family vacations. One of the highlights of his adventurous life was when Tom and a close friend flew a small twin engine plane from Arlington, Texas, to Glasgow, Scotland, to meet his family. He ultimately retired at the age of 70 in 2013. Tom did not slow down in retirement. Instead, he increased his support of others by volunteering for several years at the Cornerstone Charitable Clinic in Fort Worth, Texas. He also served as the president of the Tarrant County Medical Society and on its Scholarship Committee. Additionally, Tom was an active member of the Arlington Rotary Club as well as the Rotary's Scholarship Committee. Tom was also an active member of First United Methodist Church of Arlington and forged many enduring friendships in the Lamplighters Sunday School class. He was a "repeat" student in the Fly-Fishing class at Tarrant County Community College. He was a true adventurer, a steadfast provider, and an incredible role model, who will be greatly missed. As in the poem "High Flight," known by many aviators and military heroes, he has "slipped the bonds of earthand touched the face of God." Tom was preceded in death by his parents; daughter, Jennifer; nephew, Chris Doyle; and brother-in-law, Pat Doyle. SURVIVORS: He is survived by his wife, Dot; son, Thomas (Misty) of Dallas; beloved grandchildren, Jake and Kate; sister, Jane Lessac (Al) of Milwaukee; nephew, Mark (Lauren) of Milwaukee; niece, Eryn (Dan) of Milwaukee; sister-in-law, Margaret Doyle of Frankfort; niece, Tracey Doyle (Bill) of Frankfort; and many dear cousins and other extended family members.

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Published in Star-Telegram on Jun. 28, 2020.
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3 entries
July 18, 2020
Tom has been a wonderful friend and neighbor for nearly 30 years. I will miss him greatly.
Pat Coomes
June 30, 2020
Longtime member / supporter of the Lone Star Aero Club (.org) and avid aviation enthusiast! Known for his constant smile and friendliness!
Ted Black
June 28, 2020
Tom was my PCP and was a champion for me, helping me get my medical certificate after my type 2 diabetes diagnosis. When I would see him professionally, we enjoyed swapping flying stories, he showed me pix of his Cessna 337 and he even invited me to speak at the Lone Star Aero Club. Seeing him was more like visiting a friend than seeing a doctor. I was just thinking about him this morning when I saw the obituary. I mourn his loss and I am very sorry for the family's loss.
Mark Dreier
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