On the late, chilly night of Jan. 20, 2020, “Tom” Weaver closed his beautiful steel-blue eyes for the last time after fighting 14 years of serious health issues, (cancers, strokes, multiple aneurysms, peripheral artery disease and frontotemporal dementia).
Many would opt to refrain from sharing the unfortunate health matters that their loved one endured but to leave that journey out would be a complete failure to the testament of Tom’s incredible will to live; a will that defied statistics and baffled his doctors and family. Defying the odds could very well summarize our dad’s life in its entirety. Folklore tells us cats have nine lives; we are certain our dad had 20. To him the matter was simple—he was determined to see his grandson graduate from high school; a luxury he will not be afforded but our family is grateful he is no longer suffering.
When discussing his health, he would be the first to jokingly exclaim, “Only the good die young!” Dad was a good man too.
Tom leaves behind his daughters, Melisa Weaver Wamsley (Ray) of Gloucester and Diana Weaver (Jason Portell) of Newport News; two immeasurably adored grandchildren, Liam and Teagan Wamsley; his beloved siblings, Ron (Irene) Weaver of Lakeland, Florida, Donna Brown of Cape Coral, Florida, Linda (Mike) Byrd of Hobe Sound, Florida, and a host of cherished nieces, nephews and cousins.
It is said that friends are the family you get to choose. He leaves behind friends he thought the world of, Bobby Ann and Marshall Bainbridge of Vero Beach, Florida, Kelly and Linda Steel of Jupiter, Florida, and Bobby Gardner, formerly of Gloucester.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Sarah Lucille Law (Long) and Andrew Weaver; a dear brother-in-law, Bill Brown; a cherished cousin, Render Carter, and a beloved nephew, John Weaver.
Tom had a few loves in his lifetime. He leaves behind an ex-wife and the mother of his girls, Dorothy Weaver (BeLer) of Hayes, and a girlfriend of 24 years, Judith Burke of Gloucester.
Born in Bremen, Georgia, he entered this world into a family that had very little. He spent his early years on the heels of his older brother Ron and a dear cousin, Jerry Stanford who both would describe him as ornery. Dad would often reminisce about the time spent with these two and the rare occasion of going to the theater to watch cowboy flicks and splurging on a box of popcorn and a Coke, all for five cents. If only the streets of Bremen could talk!
Dad’s family relocated to Miami, Florida when he was in his early teens. Shortly thereafter, he gained his first job as a newspaper delivery boy and he would continue to work throughout his school years to help support his family. In 1963 he graduated from Miami Senior High Adult Education Center after attending a night school program. His sisters still share how grateful they are for the sacrifices their brother made on their behalf.
From the stories we have heard over the years we are convinced Dad made up for the lost freedom of his teens after he graduated from high school. From ’63-’70 he found thrill and excitement in classic cruisers, muscle cars and motorcycles. If he wasn’t running quarter miles at a drag strip, he was using US 1 to do it. He rolled and totaled a hotrod he shared with a buddy and laid his Triumph motorcycle down at least once. Possibly one of the most prized possessions he ever had was a ’57 Chevy Bel Air convertible he picked up during this time period. It was cherry red with rolled and pleated seats and a white top. Dad kicked himself every time he watched one auctioned off for $100k.
When he wasn’t barreling down the highway you might find him serving his customers a cold beer at the hole in the wall bar he owned in Miami—for all of six months. To the customer who sketched a portrait of him while enjoying a cold one—he kept it all of these years and we will have it framed.
One might think after having two daughters, passing along his gearhead knowledge would end there. Think again. The girls have many fond memories of attending car shows held in the field behind Ware Academy, year after year. Countless hours spent slowly pouring over the glossy painted steel and highly polished chrome gems. Tom also rebuilt a 302 in his galley style kitchen. They are still unsure of what was kept in the base cabinets behind the engine stand. Clearly nothing edible. And yes, he was single. How else would he have gotten away with that? When it came time for them to have their own vehicles, he ensured they were self-sufficient; they change their own flats.
Dad was not only a self-taught gearhead; he was a self-taught carpenter and built his home in Gloucester. We recently found all the original material receipts from when he built it (1980), along with the marked-up plans. He also leaves behind 20 empty pill bottles, 40 Maxwell House coffee cans, a dozen mayo and peanut butter jars, a bag of family-sized Campbell soup cans and 25 or so empty lunchmeat containers. We know he sounds like a hoarder but really, he was just extremely frugal. They were meticulously cleaned and awaiting a new purpose. He saved his lumber scraps too and created several treasures the girls will cherish like bookshelves, wall shelves, wooden boxes and full-sized trash cans. The latter decorated with stencils that he handmade no less!
A man of many talents, Tom was also a self-taught guitarist and harmonicist, had a smooth singing voice and was quite a talented whistler. He loved music but never took formal lessons and had a wonderful natural ability to play a song by ear.
Dad loved to fish and was sure to share that love with his girls. He didn’t like to fish by himself, it was about sharing the experience with people he loved. He always said just being out there made for a wonderful day and if you caught a fish, well that was a bonus. The girls spent many weekends trolling Waller and Harwood Mill Reservoirs. Just the mention of these locations brings back memories of cold Cokes, nabs and getting tangled in weeds. He never did settle-up on the 100 or so hot fudge sundaes or banana splits he owed us for being the first to catch a fish.
Dad retired from Ball Metal as a maintainer in May of 2002. We don’t know how or why he endured 23 years of shift work in such a wickedly unpleasant environment other than it was a job that provided financial security and benefits. We are grateful for his sacrifice but wish he had done more for himself over the years. He did meet some great people there and spoke of them often over the years.
Maybe Dad’s most notable quality was his witty yet sarcastic and maybe even sometimes morbid sense of humor. Some loved it, some did not. We appreciated it and inevitably inherited that trait along with his tough as grit attitude.
Having come from a long line of servicemen, Tom wanted badly to serve in our armed forces but was denied enlistment because he was missing a thumb. He lost it around the age of 13 during his newspaper delivery job in Miami. His girls are grateful for that fate as who knows if we would be here today otherwise. Despite this rejection his tremendous gratitude for our country’s veterans continued until his passing. With that being said, in lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to one of two charities: The Wounded Warrior Project www.woundedwarriorproject.org, P.O. Box 758517, Topeka, Kansas 66675-8517 or The Giving Garden Foundation, a Gloucester based nonprofit that provides financial assistance to cancer patients residing in Gloucester and Mathews, www.thegivinggarden.org/donate P.O. Box 1421, Hayes, Va. 23072. Please put in memory of “Tom Weaver” in the memo.
The family would like to take a moment to thank GCSO, GVFR and RWRH ER staff for their heroic efforts and for their compassion to the family in their time of grief. To the Brain Bank Network and Life Net for their expedient services to secure organ donation. Tom was a registered organ donor. To Drs. Zullo and Haggerty, your care and guidance were tremendously appreciated. We know he kept you on your toes—to say the least. To Dr. Gadams, Dad thought you were the greatest, and “so pretty” too. Thank you for your grace and patience with him. He must have asked if you were married at least two times, each visit. To Mr. Bristow and Mr. Taylor at Hogg Funeral Home, thank you for your professionalism and guidance in the handling of dad’s final wishes.
If you knew Tom and would like to share expressions of sympathy or a story about our dad, please direct that mail to “The Girls” at P.O. Box 417, Gloucester, Va. 23061.