Tom Winant, a 35-year resident of Los Altos, died at home September 17, 2020 at the age of 81. As a young Naval officer during the Viet Nam War, he was exposed to asbestos aboard ship, which eventually led to his death from Malignant Mesothelioma.
He was born April 2, 1939 in Washington, D.C., the first of three sons, to the late Capt. Frank l. Winant, Jr. (USNA ‘30) and Eleanor T. Winant and grew up in a Navy family. When he was 20 months old and living in Honolulu, Pearl Harbor was bombed and World War 11 began. Tom and his mother flew to Los Angeles on a troop carrier, seated on straight chairs, and stayed with her parents until his father returned. It was the first of many moves and separations for Tom and, later, for his brothers Gerry and Dick. He grew up strong, resilient and flexible. In 1957 he received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy from Coronado High School and graduated with the USNA Class of 1961. Over the next twenty years, he served in Korea, volunteered for Viet Nam, where he served three tours, and earned an MS in Operations Research from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA.
There he met and married his wife, Diane. After a few more moves, he retired from the Navy in 1981 in San Diego.
In civilian life he was an engineer for Convair, a division of General Dynamics. In 1985, the family settled in Los Altos, and Tom worked for FMC in San Jose. FMC became United Defense and then BAE Systems, where he mentored many young engineers and retired in 2010 as Engineering Manager.
Tom was an enthusiastic volunteer at Moffett Field Historical Society Museum, served as the President of Navy League and as President of the Pacific Central Region. Even after his diagnosis in 2019, he worked to revive the Navy League in Monterey. He also led efforts to support the Coast Guard and its families. He loved Scouting, becoming Assistant Scoutmaster and Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 30 in Los Altos. He delighted in seeing Scouts earn Eagle, the highest rank in scouting, as did his own son. When it seemed that the former Grant School site in Los Altos would be filled with new homes, he and other residents of south Los Altos formed Grant for All and were proud to see part of that site become Grant Park, in keeping with the General Plan.
Loving husband, father, brother and friend, Tom lived a life of honor, integrity and service. He was the first to lend a hand, quick to entertain with a song, joke or story. He loved children and a long succession of pets. He was a great guy. He is survived by Diane, his wife of 48 years, children Nathan, Kath and Kristin, grandchildren Dean, June and Bentley, his two brothers, five nieces and nephews and their families. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.