Tom McAleer, 93, of Camarillo CA, was surrounded by his devoted family as he passed away peacefully on December 14th. He was born to Charles Torrance McAleer and Ruth (Schellenbach) McAleer in Chicago on February 1, 1928. Until in his 80s he believed his birthdate was February 2. (When learning otherwise, he was a bit dismayed, because he had rather liked the cachet of having a birthday on Groundhog Day).
His father was a career Army officer with various posts, so Tom and his younger sister, Nancy, spent their early years in Chicago, Washington DC, and San Antonio, Texas, before the family returned to their native Los Angeles in 1937. They lived in Santa Monica and Glendale until the death of his father in 1942. This necessitated a move to Hollywood; whereTom was educated at Hollywood High, L.A. City College, and Cal State University Los Angeles, graduating with a degree in Business. Fond memories were riding the Red Cars to the beach and learning to fly with the Civil Air Patrol. During the Korean Conflict he volunteered for the draft, and was stationed for two years with the Army at Coleman Barracks in Germany.
Back home in Los Angeles he met his future wife, Doris Carlson, an Illinois transplant, at a Catholic Alumni Club dance, married at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Westwood on Sept. 17, 1960 and soon became residents of the San Fernando Valley, where they raised their four children. They were longtime members of St. Catherine of Siena Parish; Tom was actively involved in his children’s Catholic school education and other activities. Most of his working life was as an accountant with Carnation Co. and Nestle Foods. After 37 years in Northridge and Reseda, in 2002 they moved to Camarillo, where they enjoyed the benefits of retirement.
Tom was a man of eclectic tastes. A fan of the VW Beetle, on many weekends he could be found in coveralls, wrench in hand, tinkering on the car with his FM radio tuned to classical music. He was a fan of UCLA basketball; Hollywood Bowl concerts; our black lab Gretchen; politics; historical novels; war movies (“All Quiet on the Western Front”); classic silent films: geography and maps; a cigar with a gin and tonic; the LA Marathon (2 walking and 12 biking); walking; listening to audio books while exercising at the Fitness Center; independent travel with a Eurail Pass; guided land tours and river cruises; and much more. His very favorite thing was to be on the road in their VW Eurovan camper, traveling 250,000 miles over 22 years, visiting friends and relatives and all 49 continental states - more than once.
In the last three months of a struggle with dementia, Tom received tender loving care from many in the medical and hospice communities, for which we are forever grateful. He is survived by his wife, Doris; his children, Kevin in Berlin, Germany; Jennifer Klein in Thousand Oaks; Timothy in Camarillo; Melinda (and Mike) Saggiani in Rancho Palos Verdes; grandchildren Torrance Klein, Vincent Klein and Sienna Saggiani, as well as many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, his sister, Nancy Mintie, and many friends.
Our thanks to Deacon Bob Fargo of Padre Serra Parish who officiated at a private graveside service on December 20th at Conejo Mountain Cemetery. It included military honors and, in a nod to Tom’s Scots-Irish heritage, a bagpiper.
Tom was a very generous donor to various charities, favorites being the Archdiocese for the Military, Food for the Poor, and Operation Smile. For those who wish to do so, a donation in his memory would be welcome.
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