Roscoe Thomas Lauderdale

Roscoe Thomas Lauderdale

Roscoe Thomas Lauderdale (Tom) died Sunday, April 12, at his home in Freeland after a short illness caused by heart complications. He was 95.

Tom was born in New Burnside, Ill., August 18, 1919, son of Curtis and Cora. Tom was the second son; his older brother George died in 1964. Tom went to college at the University of Southern Illinois in Carbondale then joined the Navy’s officer training program in the middle of World War II.

He spent the beginning of his service in Florida, training at the amphibious assault school in Fort Pierce, and was then sent to the Pacific Theater, where he served as an officer — Lieutenant JG — on the USS Hydrus. He took part in the invasion of Okinawa, commanding a landing craft during the first wave of the assault. After the war, the Hydrus served as a troop carrier and called in at the Chinese ports of Shanghai and Tianjin. After a tour in Washington, D.C., Tom mustered out in 1946 and began teaching high school in Denver.

There he met Helen McCollum. Tom and Helen wed January 23, 1947, and were blessed with 63 happy years of marriage before Helen passed away in 2010. Tom earned a master’s degree at the University of Northern New Mexico and continued teaching school in Española, N.M. His first son, George, was born there in 1949. Tom then switched careers and joined the aerospace industry as a business administrator, moving to Alamogordo, N.M., where his second son, David, was born in 1956.

In the early ’60s, the family moved to Kirkland and watched the Space Needle raised during the World’s Fair. He then took a job with TRW and moved to San Bernardino, Calif., where the boys finished growing up. Tom retired in 1982. He and Helen, like many before them, tired of Southern California and moved to Langley in 1985. Tom was a Whidbey Islander for 30 years, finally selling his house in 2014 and moving to Maple Ridge in Freeland. There he continued to see friends and kept active by spoiling his cat, Shane.

Tom was a deeply religious man with a strong faith in Christ, making a point of reading through the entire Bible once a year. He and Helen did a great deal of traveling during their years on Whidbey, attending Hydrus reunions, visiting friends and relatives all over the United States, and even taking three long trips to England. Tom was involved in community life until very recently, and he enjoyed good health well into his 95th year. His humor, good nature and warmth will be sorely missed by his family and his many friends on Whidbey Island.

Tom passed away peacefully in his home Sunday, April 12. He is survived by his two sons, George and his wife Wanda in Oak Harbor, and David and his wife Kathy in London. As per his wishes, he was cremated and the ashes scattered in a private ceremony. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 18, at the Island Church of Whidbey in Langley.