Honoring the Life of Thomas W. Birminghamby Representative Jim Costa
Posted on 2015-02-09
in the house of representatives
Monday, February 9, 2015
Mr. COSTA. Mr. Speaker, I rise today along with my colleague Mr.
LaMalfa to pay tribute to the life of Thomas ``Tom'' Birmingham, who
passed away on January 8, 2015 at the age of 93. Tom was an
extraordinary person, and he will always be remembered as a man who
lived his life with purpose and great dedication to his students,
family, friends and community.
Tom was born on March 21, 1922 to Thomas and Nell Birmingham in Red Bluff, California. He spent much of his childhood living in various northern California towns, as his father's career as a Highway Patrolman required. It was while living with his family in Westwood, California that Tom developed many life-long friendships and his happiest childhood memories. He graduated from Clarksburg High School in Clarksburg, California, now called Delta High School, in 1940.
World War II interrupted Tom's first attempt at attending college. He left school to join the United States Navy. In the Navy, Tom was assigned to Bombing Squadron Nineteen which flew off of the USS Lexington. Mr. Birmingham proudly served our country as an aviator, and was awarded an Air Medal and a Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions on October 25, 1944 during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Tom was extremely proud of his service and of the men with whom he served on board the Lexington.
Mr. Birmingham continued his education after the War. He enrolled at San Jose State College and graduated in 1950. While at university, Tom competed in numerous track events including the high hurdle and the triple jump, known at the time as the ``hop, skip, jump.'' A talented, athletic individual, Mr. Birmingham garnered the reputation of a world class athlete. In addition to his skills on the track field, Tom was an avid skier, becoming one of the first instructors at the Mt. Shasta Herald Ski School.
It was while Tom studied at San Jose State College that he met the love of his life, Lulu Archer. Tom and Lulu were married in 1951 and stayed in the bay area for another year while Tom completed his teaching credential. Lulu truly was Tom's one and only. Later the same year, Tom and Lulu moved to Yreka, California where they grew their family with the addition of three children, Kate, Thomas, and John.
In Yreka, Mr. Birmingham accepted a teaching and coaching position at Yreka High School. As a teacher of art and history, Mr. Birmingham was able to motivate students and develop an excitement in them for learning and personal development. Additionally, coaching track and basketball allowed Tom to form lasting bonds with his students, many of whom he kept in contact throughout his life.
Following a distinguished 31 years at Yreka High School, Mr. Birmingham retired in 1983. Upon his retirement, Tom and Lulu made it a priority to travel together. He also accepted the responsibility of taking care of his wife in the latter stages of her illness. Several years after her passing in 1987, Tom chose to relocate to Redding, California to be closer to family, specifically his beloved grandchildren. Throughout his life, his hobbies included hunting, fishing, and, in retirement, restoring old cars.
Tom's friendliness and honest nature built many lasting friendships during his lifetime. His long and remarkable life is fondly remembered by colleagues, students, friends and family. Tom leaves behind his three children; Kate, Thomas, John, their spouses, and his grandchildren.
Mr. Speaker, it is with great respect that I ask my colleagues in the House of Representatives to join Mr. LaMalfa and me in saying farewell to a man from the greatest generation, Mr. Thomas W. Birmingham. His genuine character and his loving commitment to his family and community will be greatly missed.