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Tom McCutchen, ’67, 1949-2019

 

Tom died at the University of Michigan Hospital two weeks ago.  August 30, 2019 about 11:24 pm.

We will add photos and details later. 

For many of us from West Fullerton, Tom was one of the oldest friends we had.

We pray for Tom’s family and for the repose of Tom’s immortal soul. 

Tom grew up in a West Fullerton neighborhood just west of South Basque and south of West Valencia, with many of the best known students, leaders and athletes from Sunny Hills. His father died when Tom was five, and his mother brought up Tom and his younger brother. 

 

From the beginning at age 7, Tom participated passionately in Pop Warner Football and Little League baseball, where he excelled. He was always a good student and an extremely intelligent person, although most people knew him primarily as an athlete. 

 

At Sunny Hills, Tom was a varsity football co-captain and named to All-League honors. He also participated in wrestling and baseball. As always, he had many friends, and although Tom was personally somewhat shy, he was also gregarious and loved to be with people. 

 

At Fullerton Junior College, Tom played on the 1970 team with 11 wins and 1 loss, winning the South Coast Conferane championship in Southern California.  Through his entire athletic career, he was known as an exceptionally hard worker and a young man dedicated to his teams. 

 

After FJC, Tom spent a year or two working, and then enrolled at the University of Redlands, where he played on an NAIA team. Again he was a team captain and earned All American NAIA honors. He majored in English literature and continued a life-long love of reading where English novelist Charles Dickens was his favorite author. 

 

During his FJC and Redlands days, Tom continued his friendships with many Sunny Hills pals. They met and socialized often over a wide axis of Westwood and West Los Angeles, Fullerton, Redlands, Baja California and beyond. 

 

After Redlands, Tommy attended the NFL Chicago Bears pre-season training camp, along with another rookie player named Gale Sayers. Ultimately Tom did not make the final cut, and said in his opinion it was because he had “slow feet” (compared to these NFL greats, I’d add).  

 

Then he began a long career in the industrial refrigeration industry, beginning as a salesman. He married the love of his life, Jeanne, and remained married to her all his life. 

 

Tom’s job took him to virtually every town and city in the United States, and he could prove it to you by describing all the places and their characteristics. He advanced to management, and eventually became national sales director for his firm. I believe it was based in The City of Commerce, just southwest of Los Angeles, and for a while he also owned a home in Redlands, so for part of the year, Tom would commute the 65 miles back and forth in his new Toyota Tundra, early in the morning, late at night. During this period of 2000 to about 2005, Tom also volunteered to coach the Redlands High School football team. 

 

Tom's career and the company he worked for took him all over the country, There were also times Tom spent a while in Key West, Florida, probably his favorite place on earth. He owned a bar there for a while, and loved to hang out with his friends. 

 

Over the years, Tom and Jeanne lived in a home in Plymouth, Michigan, and they have an adult son named Tom, and recently, a male grandson.  

 

By the 1990s, Tom had Diabetes Mellitus, and eventually suffered several heart attacks. He had almost unbelievable courage and determination, though, and went to physical therapy as much and as long as his doctors ordered. He did not complain, and in his own sardonic way, remained optimistic, if not Pollyannish. He began one email to me by stating, “Everything is peachy keen.”  

 

Did I mention Tom was always a witty guy with a great sense of humor, often self-effacing? He attended all his ’67 Class Reunions and became an imposing figure at 6’3-1/2”, standing with a cold-bottle of bear  in his hand, surveying the room, making under his breath wisecracks for the dozen or so classmates who enjoyed being around him. He loved ironic humor and putting people on in comic ways. He and I had a standing joke of bumping into each other hard at those reunions, only to step back and say with mock-apology, “Oh, excuse me!”  He was funny as the dickens with his straight face that betrayed a little nonsense going on. 

 

About five years ago when Russell Lowe, ’67 was still alive, a bunch of us Lancer guys discussed who the best athletes at Sunny Hills were in the 1960s. Russell said (quoting him from memory): “Well, if you mean the original ideal of sports, the Olympian ideal, it would be Tom McCutchen.” 

 

I’ve never known anyone who loved that game of football more than Tom.  

 

I’m thinking back on the early days, 1961-1962, after school when we Nicolas kids used to walk over to the McDonald’s on South Euclid, by Orangethorpe. Tom and John Hughes, ’67 were tight buddies then, and sometimes I’d hang around, sometimes with my best friend Jeff Nix, ’67 or others. That’s when I first learned what a great human being Tom was.  

 

I loved that big guy, and I’m going to miss him a lot. 

 

— Paul Saevig, ‘67

 

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Wayne Redfearn, ‘65 on September 13, 2019 at 5:42 PM said:

Tom was a good man. Rest In Peace,
Avril Ford '66 on September 13, 2019 at 5:20 PM said:

I knew Tom...not as an athlete,but as a kid in the neighborhood. Condolences to his family.
Paul Shepard, '64 on September 13, 2019 at 3:56 PM said:

I didn't know Tom, but am saddened by his passing. My his soul, by the Grace of God, rest in Peace.
Jeff Nix, ‘67 on September 13, 2019 at 3:40 PM said:

RIP, Tom. He gave me my first paying job when he handed over his Register Paper Route to me in early '62. Always liked Tom, always got along well with him. Truly sad. -Jeff

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