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Thomas W. Wathen

1929 - 2016 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Thomas W. Wathen Obituary
October 5, 1929 - June 20, 2016 Thomas William "Tom" Wathen, entrepreneur, pilot, benefactor and philanthropist, died peacefully on June 20th, 2016 in Montecito, California, his wife Carol by his side. Tom Wathen was born and raised in Vincennes, Indiana, on October 5th, 1929, where he acquired a life-long interest in aviation. He graduated from Indiana University with a degree in police science. Here he met his first wife, Margaret "Gabby" Gibson Corbin, who preceded him in death. After graduation, Tom was a civilian security investigator at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, and later an Air Force Officer in the Office of Special Investigation, where he founded the Air Force pistol team. Later Tom returned to Wright-Patterson as a civilian security specialist. He bought a World War II surplus "Grasshopper" and learned to fly. In 1958, Tom came to California as project security officer for the North American XB-70. He met such famed aviators as Scott Crossfield and Bob Hoover, and was present for the first flight of the X-15 at Edwards AFB. He joined the fledgling Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), later serving on the EAA President's Council and as a Trustee of the EAA Foundation. In 1964 Tom bought a little industrial security company, California Plant Protection, which he built from one office with 13 guards to 23,000 employees at 130 offices in 38 States. It handled security for the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics. In 1998, CPP bought the famed Pinkertons from American Brands, and in 1990 went public. Tom commuted in his small plane from Torrance to Van Nuys Airport, near the CPP office. In the late 1970s, he started restoring unique airplanes, including the only Piper PT-1 and the Volmer Jensen VJ-21 Jaybird, both now in museums. In the early 1990s, Tom turned to replicas of Golden Age air racers, starting with the 1934 deHavilland dH-88 Comet "Grosvenor House." It is now at Flabob Airport near Riverside, with Tom's subsequent replicas, including the 1937 Laird-Turner LT-14 Meteor, the 1937 Schoenfeldt Firecracker, and the 1936 Caudron C460. In 1999, Pinkertons was acquired by Swedish firm Securitas AB, and Tom decided that the mission of the Thomas W. Wathen Foundation (now called the Tom Wathen Center) would be to use the magic of flight to inspire life-long learning, especially by young people. He bought historic Flabob Airport, fifth oldest surviving civil airport in California, as a campus for the Foundation's work. Under Tom's guidance, Flabob has become the home of an aviation-themed public charter secondary school, of a branch of Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology, and of the headquarters of the world's oldest pilot fraternity. It has offered field trips, Air Academies, and aircraft restoration projects to thousands of young people from toddlers to high school students. Its at-risk intervention projects have diverted young gang members to useful lives in aviation. Dozens of young people have earned pilot and mechanic certificates, and have had their lives positively changed. The FAA awarded Tom its Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award. In 2011 Tom married Carol Scott Wathen in a joyful ceremony in front of his entire extended family and group of friends at a Wathen family reunion. Carol remained his best friend and constant companion. Tom's special genius was that he never met a stranger. He was instantly and truly friends with everyone he met, without regard to their social standing, money or lack of it. He knew astounding numbers of his thousands of employees not only by name but by their family triumphs and struggles. Tom was the most generous of humans. When it came to the needs of others, his pocketbook was open, as was his heart. He encouraged those of us who are left to mourn his passing to always do our best. "Take pride" was Tom's motto and his legacy. Tom Wathen was preceded in death by his parents Wm. H. "Jack" Wathen and Dorothy Margaret (Stumpp) Wathen, his former wife, Margaret (Gibson) Corbin and sister-in- law and brother-in-law, Mary Anne (Corbin) Lindner and Thomas Lindner. Also preceding him in death was his wife, Janna (Weaver) Wathen, brother Robert Joseph ("Bosco"), sister Margaret Ann Marchino and brother-in-law John Norman Marchino, and brother-in-law, Dr. John Thomas Quirk. Mr. Wathen is survived by his wife, Carol Scott Wathen. Also surviving are two sisters, Barbara Wathen (Tom) Quirk and Mary Susan Wathen, his sister-in-law Chieko (Robert) Wathen, four step sons, Manning and Scott Mann and Douglas and Michael Jensen, daughters -in-law, Susan, "Pia", and Diane and grandchildren, Manning Jr., Chase, Michael, Addison, Gioia and Janna. Tom was a loving uncle to Mary Ann (Stumpp) George, Mary S. (Wathen) and Paul Ahern with children Diane Midori and John Robert "Jack" Ahern, to Mark Wm. Wathen with children MacKenna and MacAllister Wathen, to Amy (Quirk) Weiss and Dr. Eric Weiss with son, Daniel Noah Weiss, to Kathryn (Quirk) and David Panetti with children John Thomas Harold and Sophie Elizabeth Panetti, to Matthew Wathen Quirk and Peggy Quirk with children Andrew Wathen Quirk and Michael Joseph Quirk, to Christopher and Kimberly (Patterson) Quirk with children Cuchuclainn, Catrionna, Michael Josiah and Beatris A. "Tilly" Quirk, to John Curtis and Lori Marchino with children John Lee and Curtis Lee, to Charles Edward and Becky Marchino, to Julia Ann Marchino and to Marilyn and Tom Westfall and children, Nathan and Maggie Westfall and to Lieutenant Colonial Retired Margaret (Lindner) Herring and Master Sergeant Retired Michael Herring and children John Mackenzie Herring and Camilla Michele Herring. Tom is also survived by best family friend Linda Sue Alsop of New Harmony, Indiana. A Requiem Mass was celebrated at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Montecito on June 28. A Celebration of Tom's life will be held at Flabob Airport, Jurupa Valley, on June 30 at 5:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations in Tom's memory may be made to The Tom Wathen Center, Flabob Airport, 4130 Mennes Avenue, Jurupa Valley, California 92509.
Published in the Los Angeles Times from June 29 to June 30, 2016
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