Former Gardnerville resident, Tommy L. Gatewood passed away peacefully at his home in
Grants Pass, Oregon, surrounded by his loving family.
After graduating from Turlock High School in 1947, Tom spent a short time at college. In 1951, Tom entered the Naval flight training program in Pensacola, Fla. and earned his wings on Oct. 31st, 1952. Tom married Rosemary Tyer in Jan. of 1953 in Corpus Christi, Texas.
His first tours of duty were spent in the Pacific theater toward the end of the Korean conflict, flying the AD Skyraider off the USS Yorktown and Essex.
In 1955, he reported to Millington, Tenn. as an instructor in advanced all-weather training for 3 years - followed by 2 years in Norfolk, Va. as an administrative officer in Fleet Airborne Training Unit. In 1959, he transitioned to the A-4 in Virginia Beach. Tours to the Mediterranean aboard the USS Intrepid and newly commissioned USS Enterprise followed.
In 1965 he was sent to the United States Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. where he received a degree in International Relations. In 1967, he returned to flying as executive officer of VA-66 Broncos making his first tour to Vietnam flying the A-4. He assumed his role as Commander and made another tour to Vietnam where he earned a Distinguished Flying Cross with gold star air medal, air medals for 200 successful missions and a Navy Commendation medal.
He retired in July of 1971 following a final tour aboard the USS Bon Homme Richard. Tom began a second career as a State Farm Insurance Agent in the city of Sonora, Calif. lasting for 26 years and retiring for the second time in 1994.
He and Rosemary moved to Gardnerville, Nev. in 1995 where he pursued his love of glider flying. After 16 years, they moved to Grants Pass, Oregon to be closer to family.
Tom had a love of nature, especially for the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains and spent much time fishing, camping and exploring the back country. He was a firearms enthusiast, particularly enjoying black powder rifles and had a long association with the Sonora Smokepolers. At age 50, he decided to learn to play the bagpipes. He built RC airplanes.
Tom is survived by his wife, Rosemary Gatewood; daughters, MaryAnne (Dan) Loughran and Amy (Keith) Smothers; sister, Susan (Stan) Cunningham; 7 grandchildren, Bo and Jason Barefield of La., Kylie and Rachel Loughran of Oregon, Lindsey, Teryn and Stewart Smothers of Calif. and 4 great-grandchildren.
A Celebration of Tom's Life will be held on Monday, Nov. the 19th at 1:00 p.m. at the Sonora Opera Hall, 250 S. Washington Street in Sonora, California.