Captain Thomas Nolon "Tom" Lightsey Jr.
1923 - 2021
Peevey Funeral & Cremation
12440 Beamer Rd
Houston, TX
Captain Thomas "Tom" Nolon Lightsey, Jr.
June 22, 1923 - August 12, 2021
Houston, Texas - Captain Thomas "Tom" Nolon Lightsey, Jr. passed away on August 12, 2021 surrounded by his loving children. Tom, also known as Buddy, was born and raised in Biloxi, Mississippi on June 22, 1923. In 1950, Tom married another Biloxi native, and love of his life, Elizabeth "Betty" Burns Lightsey. Tom often remarked that he had a great life-partner in Betty. Together they (ok, mostly Betty) raised six children. After Betty's death in 2005, Tom became the center of the Lightsey clan and embraced his role as the elder Lightsey. He remembered the birthdays of his children and grandchildren, loved the family Christmas gatherings, waited anxiously for news and pictures of the latest adventures (and misadventures) of his extended family, etc. He loved and proudly mentored his eight grandchildren, providing them a loving and guiding hand. His grandchildren loved him dearly in return.
Tom was still in high school when the United States entered World War II. Although he wanted to immediately enlist, his mother insisted he finish high school. Upon graduating from Biloxi High School he applied to enlist in the United States Navy, which declined his offer of service due to Tom's severe asthma. He then applied to the United States Merchant Service, but, having learned his lesson and wanting to serve his country, did not tell the USMS of his asthma. The USMS accepted Tom, which changed the course of his life. In 1943, he attended basic training in St. Petersburg, Florida, graduating as an Able Seaman. Less than a year later he was accepted into Officer Candidate School in Fort Trumbull, Connecticut, graduating as an Ensign and with a United States Coast Guard Third Mate's license. After the War, having discovered a love for the sea, he continued rising through the ranks, earning his Captain's license and getting his first command as Master of a ship at twenty-eight years old. In 1954 Tom and Betty moved to Houston. In 1956 Tom became a Houston ship pilot, a career he truly loved. His nicknames on the Houston Ship Channel were "Super Pilot" and "Number 1". In 1974 he was elected to serve as the Presiding Officer (i.e. President) of the Houston Pilots Association. Tom retired from the Houston Pilots in 1993, but remained active in the organization.
Tom was an extremely active member of Houston's East End community. He served on the board of the Cossaboom YMCA (nee East End YMCA) for decades, including serving as the Chair of the board. He was voted the East End YMCA Volunteer of the Year on four occasions.
In 2012, the Houston area YMCA honored his service by bestowing upon him the David Allen Service Award – their highest service award. Tom was also active in the Harrisburg Rotary Club, which honored him as Rotarian of the Year in 1983. The United Way of Houston awarded him Volunteer of the Year in 1987. The most recent East End group to honor Tom's generosity and support was The Ambassadors International Ballet Folklorico, a dance group which he and Betty supported for decades. Tom was not only generous with his time, he also made regular charitable donations to multiple organizations, as well as to the Catholic Church. In 1984, Tom and Betty established, and funded, the Lightsey Family Scholarship which has helped hundreds of East End children afford a college education. He took great pride and joy in seeing so many young people prosper. In 2000, his home town recognized Tom's outstanding professional achievements and selfless community service by honoring him as "Biloxian Made Good." Clearly, his fellow Biloxi High School Classmates misjudged Tom when, in their Senior Yearbook, they named Tom as the class' "Laziest Student."
Tom is survived by his daughters Catherine Hubbard, Rebecca Lightsey, Melinda Lightsey-Ford, Priscilla Lightsey and Anne Lightsey; son Tom Lightsey; sons-in-law Clint Hubbard, Jim Ford and Scott Cook; grandchildren Lee and Elizabeth Hubbard; Isabel and Felicia Simpson, Madeline and Clayton Lightsey-Ford, Kique Guerrero and Cameron Lightsey-Cook; special niece Eileen Donovan; and many other loved nieces, nephews, relatives and truly special friends, far too numerous to name. Tom was preceded in death by Betty, his wonderful wife of fifty-five years, and by all of his siblings – Elizabeth Perry, Richard Lightsey and Mary Anne Clark. Tom had an outsized personality and a gregarious nature. He was loved and will be dearly missed by many. He was strong in his Catholic faith and often said, "I have been blessed by the Lord."
The family will receive friends for a visitation from 6:00 pm until 8:00 pm on Tuesday, August 17th , with a Rosary prayed at 6:00pm. at Peevey Funeral Home, 12440 Beamer Road, Houston, Texas. A Funeral Mass honoring and remembering Tom will be celebrated at 10:00am Wednesday, August 18th , at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, 6800 Buffalo Speedway, Houston, Texas. In lieu of flowers, a memorial donation may be made to the Lightsey Family Scholarship, via by BakerRipley at, with a designation that the donation is for the Lightsey Family Scholarship.
The family asks that all who attend the Visitation or Mass respect Captain Lightsey's directive to be fully vaccinated and masked. Captain Lightsey would be heartbroken if anyone were to fall ill due to attending a service to remember him.

Published by The Sun Herald on Aug. 15, 2021.
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Peevey Funeral & Cremation
12440 Beamer Rd, Houston, TX
Peevey Funeral & Cremation
12440 Beamer Rd, Houston, TX
Funeral Mass
St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church
6800 Buffalo Speedway, Houston, TX
Funeral services provided by:
Peevey Funeral & Cremation
Sponsored by The Sun Herald.
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5 Entries
I don't think I could ever sum up Capt. Lightsey in words. He was, and will be in my memory, truly one of one! I think the phrase is "He's Number 1" It was a pleasure to grow up with Tom, Betty and their kids. I will always will remember Tom as a larger than life character with a big smile, big laugh and an even bigger heart. Tom and Betty, a Great Southern Lady, were family to us Antone's and we were all together as much as possible. My dad and Tom were great friends and as age made it harder for my dad to get out and about Tom would always find a way to see my dad. Tom was always the life of any gathering. It was always fun to visit and be visited by the LIGHTSEY family and, for my dad and me, always a guess as to what kind of vehicle Tom would drive up in! Both he and my dad were Mississippi Boys and maybe they are together again getting in trouble in the Magnolia State. Tom & Betty will always be missed but I believe somehow they, and all of us, will be united again! I'm waiting for laughter from the Heavens when Tom & "Bill" meet again........
Brian "Pat" & Peggy Antone
August 17, 2021
August 16, 2021
A little humor TOM was well known for humor being the Super Pilot you have to mention Capt Robert Adams the Backbone of the Pilots if my memory severs me well they both White Hats
Captian B.E. Pete McRae
August 15, 2021
My sincere condolences to the family. The often used phrase to remember and honor a person "They broke the mold" applies to Captain Tom perfectly, he was one of a kind. Good man will be missed.
Guy B Roberts
August 15, 2021
My mother (also called Betty) sent to high school with them and had not seen them for years, but when she got cancer and had to go to MD Anderson they treated her a a long lost cousin. Wonderful, I will never forget it. I am going to plant a tree on Ship Island in their honor. Currently there is only one left alive out there; hopefully theirs will be the second.
Andrew J. Adams III
August 15, 2021
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