OBITUARY: Tom Saunders

Tom Saunders was born at home in Bakersfield, California on July 29, 1936, on his father’s 39th birthday.

His father Albert Victor Saunders, mother Bessie Mae (Larimer) Saunders, older sisters Jean Cook, Margaret Mears, bother, John Saunders, all predeceased. He is survived by wife Carol, sons Randy and Wes (Vivian), grandchildren Amber, Jeremy, KC, Mary Joy, Thomas, Daniele Kennedy (Jake), three great grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

He graduated from East Bakersfield High School in June 1954. Tom and Carol dated their senior year in high school and married May 21, 1955, in Bakersfield. They were blessed with their first son, Randy in 1957, and in 1960 a second blessing, son Wes.

After visiting relatives in Oregon, they felt this is where they would like to raise their family. Tom made a trip to Salem early spring of 1964, and his very first stop was at Court Street Christian Church. A day after returning to Bakersfield, he received a call from Meier and Frank with a job offer and could start immediately.

He gave notice to his superior at Kern County Fire Department, took accumulated vacation and went to work at Meier and Frank in Salem in April 1964. He stayed with a cousin in Stayton until the family joined him in June. In August 1964, Tom began a long career with State Farm Insurance and truly enjoyed his job. He began as an office auto claims adjuster and was promoted and advanced to other positions with achievements along the way, including his determined self-study to receive a Bachelor of Law degree.

He retired from State Farm on Sept. 30, 1998, as Regional Catastrophe Coordinator, encompassing Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, and Hawaii.

An avid fast-pitch softball player, he had a full trophy case to show for it. He spent summers full of games and tournaments in the northwest. With retirement living in Salemtowne, he played pickleball and became a little more serious about golf. He was proud to have driven the second longest hole (No. 7), but another day it took his fifth drive to clear the pond on No. 9. Tom enjoyed lunching or movies with Salemtowne friends.

Tom and Carol made trips with close friends. Tom fished in Alaska, moose hunting trip in Canada and hunting in Oregon.

Tom loved his Lord Jesus Christ.  He made an effort to read his Bible daily. We know he is with Jesus Christ now, and relieved of the health issues he had dealt with these past few years.

Celebration of Life will be held at Court Street Christian Church at 1 p.m Jan. 27. In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to Court Street Christian Church, 1699 Court St. N.E. or Salem Academy Christian Schools, 942 Lancaster Dr. NE.

A special thank you to the ICU/CVCU doctors and nurses for the kind and compassionate care at Salem Hospital during Tom’s short hospitalization.

–Submitted information

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