Affectionately known as “Tom” and “T Bird”
Commander Thomas “Tom” Cushman Bird, a decorated Navy Aviator and a man of inimitable character, courageously took his last breath surrounded by family and friends on February 25, 2019 at St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, WA. He was born on August 10, 1931 to mother, Helen Nathan and father, George Warrin Bird in Montréal, Canada. Tom spent much of his childhood in Toronto. He was a gifted academic and athlete. He played elite hockey with the Toronto Marlboros, a farm team for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Tom then pursued collegiate football from which he sustained a kidney injury that rerouted his career to Officer Candidate School with the United States Navy in 1954. He was one of few officers designated to complete training as a Naval Aviator.
Tom went to high school at Toronto (Humberside C.I.). He is an alumnus of both Toronto University in Canada and Heidelberg College in Ohio, where he first met and was instantly smitten with his wife, Dolores “Dee” Tirabassi. From Heidelberg College, he completed his undergraduate education with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. He was a lifelong student and achieved a Master’s degree in International Affairs from George Washington University as well as a Master’s degree in Business Administration from City University. Additionally, to complement his military career, Tom graduated from the Naval War College with a focus on Middle Eastern Affairs.
Tom’s military career boasts 28 years of service as a Navy officer and aviator; he retired in 1982 with the rank of Commander. He was versatile in jobs within the Navy and served as the following: Commanding Officer of Naval Air Facility Mildenhall, Flight Instructor, Air Antisubmarine Officer, Squadron Operations Officer, Staff Air Operations and Planning Officer, Staff Plans Officer, and Operations Officer Afloat. Tom served on the USS Essex, USS Valcour, USS Randolph and as an Antisubmarine Officer in the Korean War. Tom’s final duty was as the Commanding Officer of the Naval Reserve Center at Lake Union in Seattle, WA. Although he led a busy life, Tom managed to balance his dual responsibilities as a leader and a family man.
Tom and Dee raised four children who accompanied him throughout his career with multiple moves, to include an eight-year period in Europe. Nearing Tom's retirement, the family settled in Redmond "Sammamish" WA in 1978. Tom was a brilliant and active man. He seamlessly transitioned to civilian work, taking on roles in management of different industries, such as finance and engineering. He enjoyed supporting his family’s endeavors and attended many of his children’s sporting events. It is difficult to capture the entirety of his character, but most would attest that Tom was an avid sports enthusiast, a lover of classical music, an epicurean with a palate for the finer foods, and a true historian with a special interest in World War II. Tom was a strong man, proud of his family, and endearing in his special way. He was generous with his time, love, and attention.
He is survived by his daughters Valerie Elizabeth Olsen (John) of Spokane, WA and US Army Lieutenant Colonel Marissa Aimeé Bird (Mailee) of Spokane, WA; son, Thomas Cushman Bird II of Seattle, WA; and sisters Patricia Smith of Scottsdale, AZ and Jocelyn Helm of Redmond, WA. He is preceded in death by his beloved wife, Dolores Romaine Bird and their daughter, Christine Reneé Bird.
A farewell salute and visitation for CDR T.C. Bird is planned for Saturday, March 9, 2019 from 10:00AM – 12:00PM at Gaffney Funeral Home in Tacoma, WA. A graveside service with military honors will be held on March 9, 2019 at 2:00 PM at Holyrood Catholic Cemetery in Shoreline, WA.
Arrangements by Gaffney Funeral Home