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Thomas Hamilton Orton

1938 - 2020
Thomas Hamilton Orton Obituary
ORTON, Thomas Hamilton July 4, 1938 March 15, 2020 Thomas Hamilton Orton, 81, passed away in Georgetown, Texas, with family and Pastor Walt Pohland at his side. Tom is preceded in death by his twinned daughter, Merrie Leigh Orton MacInerney; parents, Ellsworth and Mary Orton (nee Foehr); and his maternal aunt, Maude Houlihan (nee Jeffery) and her husband, Byron, who raised Tom and his brother William (Bill) after their parents passed away. Tom is survived by his wife of 59 years, Lois Kruse Orton; son, John Orton and wife Terri; twinned daughter, Lorrie Orton Heath and husband John; grandchildren, Dylan MacInerney, Ryan Orton and wife Kayla, Gillian MacInerney, Claire Orton, and Cullen MacInerney; brother, William Orton and wife Diana; and nephews, Christopher Orton and wife Mary Ann, Craig Orton and wife Vonda, and Curtis Orton and wife Julie. Tom was born in Detroit, Michigan and baptized and confirmed at Bethany Lutheran Church. He graduated from Bethany Lutheran High School, where he was a scholar athlete who lettered in baseball, basketball, and football. Tom also played starting catcher for Detroit's amateur senior baseball team who won the National Championship in 1955. Tom was highly recruited by several major league baseball teams but deferred to accept a full scholarship to Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana. At Valpo, Tom was again a scholar athlete, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree, and a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity. He was a four-year starter in basketball, and an All-American in baseball who continues to hold Valpo's all-time batting average of .457. Tom also competed in the 1959 Pan American Olympic Games, earning a bronze medal as a starting catcher for the winning United States Baseball Team. Tom was later recruited by the New York Yankees, but instead chose to graduate from Valpo and sign with the Detroit Tigers. In 1961, Tom and Lois married in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Tom then played in the Tigers' minor league system for four years, and also assisted in scouting. While subsequently completing his master's degree in geography at Wayne State University, Tom taught at Detroit Lutheran High School East, while also coaching the Boys' Basketball Team to 5 of 5 winning seasons and two district championships. At Roane State Community College, Tom successfully taught and also coached the Men's Basketball Team, including an All-American, to regional tournament level and was named "Coach of the Year" for the region. At Concordia University Texas, Tom taught history and geography, while also coaching the Men's Basketball Team, including two All-Americans, for several successful seasons, culminating in Concordia winning the Little College National Championship in 1983. In total, Tom experienced 13 of 19 winning seasons as a head basketball coach at the high school, college, and university levels. In 2011, Tom retired from Concordia University Texas after 32 years of faithful service, as both a professor and basketball coach. He has been inducted into the Hall of Fames at both Valparaiso University and Concordia University Texas. Tom was a leader in the community, as well, serving as a commissioner on Pflugerville's Planning and Zoning Commission and as a board member for Concordia Academy. Tom was a member of Faith Lutheran Church in Georgetown for many years, where he served as a lay reader and usher. Tom was an avid Texas Rangers' fan and an astute bridge player, who also loved Blue Bell and Dairy Queen ice creams. The family will hold private church and graveside services. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to The Thomas H. Orton Memorial Scholarship Endowment of Concordia University Texas or to Faith Lutheran Church, Georgetown, Texas. Tom's family would like to acknowledge the wonderful care provided by health care providers and staff at Laurel Hall at Wesleyan at Estrella, Elite Patient Care, and Traditions Hospice.
Published in Austin American-Statesman on Mar. 17, 2020
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