Thomas Joseph Atkinson was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on August 4, 1945. He was the second child to Thomas Henry and Rita Mary Atkinson. Ultimately. it was a family of six with older sister Jeanne, brothers Paul, Michael, & Johnny, and youngest sister Patti, the only native Californian.  

         When Tommy was 5 years old his family moved 3,000 miles across the Country to Van Nuys, California, in 1950.  Their new home at 14042 Gilmore Street was next door to the Brewster’s and down the street from the Meyer’s, the Campbells, the Hardy’s, the Boulgers, the Billings, the McDuffee’s, the Leahys, and the Eberts. Members of these families would remain life long friends. There are members from those families present today.

         Tommy attended St. Elisabeth Elementary School, Notre Dame High, and graduated in 1963 from Van Nuys High School.             His first job was delivering the Los Angeles Mirror newspaper and, like most of his friends, the Van Nuys News and Green Sheet. He spent time at the Deli-mart and later at Red Cap liquor as a delivery & stock boy. But his love of auto racing was also fostered during these early years as a greasy employee for Lothar Motchenbaker Formula Racing, located at the corner of Hazletine and Victory.  He then moved on to Schmitz’s Shell Station at the same corner, directly behind his home, where he learned the fine art of pumping gas, washing windshields, and cleaning greasy floors.  This would serve him well a few years later when he went to work at Erv Walz Richfield Station at the corner of Van Nuys and Burbank Boulevards.

         Tom entered the US Army in 1966. He went through boot camp and AIT at Fort Ord, California. He was then assigned to the 1st Cavalry in Hawaii, where he spent the next year in jungle training. He served a full tour in Vietnam as a tank/ armored personnel carrier operator with the Americal Division, during which time he was engaged in many skirmishes and battles, including Mi Lai and the Tet Offensive. On two occasions his armored carrier was hit by enemy fire. One of the hits took all of the crew members except Tommy. He seldom talked about his experiences in Vietnam, but when he did, he was always brought to tears. 

         When he returned from the Army, Tom happily joined the ranks of veterans collecting unemployment insurance. When his benefits sadly ran out, he figured he had two career choices: become a civilian tank driver, (not many of those), of go to work for the unemployment office. So Tom spent the next 25 years as an unemployment specialist with the California State Employment Development Department, working mostly in the Hollywood, North Hollywood, and Lancaster offices. He retired in 2002. Some of Tom’s former coworkers are in the audience today, so if you want to share a story with them, or you just have an umployment insurance question they’ll be around.       

         Tom was married twice, most recently to Dayna Marks, and he loved his stepchildren Harry and Stacy and grandkids Halie & Camryn Marks.        

         Tom was preceded in death by his parents, Tom and Rita, and by brothers Michael and Johnny. He is survived by sisters Patti Healy, (husband  Matt & son Noah), brother, Paul Atkinson,  sister Jeanne Greco, nephews Timmy McDuffee, Paul McDuffee (wife Amber, daughter Rylee and son Reegan), and niece Kelli Russo, (son Aiden). 

         Tommy loved children above all. They always made him smile even at the very end. He also loved the Dodgers, the Rams, Notre Dame, UCLA, racecars, and Rock ‘n Roll.