In memory of

Thomas "Tom" Fox

Jan 1, 1947
Jun 27, 2022

Obituary

Tom Fox, Longtime resident of Salem, died recently.  He was an economic business developer for the State of Oregon and was influential in assisting many businesses to grow, expand, and create jobs.  Tom had a quick wit and appreciated the ironies of this life.  He reminded us often of the Golden Rule:  He who has the gold, makes the rules.  Tom recently enjoyed the publication of his novel, “The Jiggers Man” loosely based on characters he encountered during his years in Chicago, and California.  He is survived by four brothers, several nieces, nephews, and cousins.  He will be greatly missed!

Memories of Tom – by his brother John

I knew Tom since he was two weeks old being his older brother by 19 months.  As it turned out, we became close and remained so all of our lives.  Tom was, by nature, kind, caring, and generous to most all people he met.  However, he had low tolerance for selfish, insensitive, and mean individuals.  He was known to counsel some of them and firmly point out the error of their ways.  Those who knew Tom know he was quite capable of such deeds and he could do this as early as high school.

Tom traveled the world, but he settled in Oregon in the end.  We had many adventures together, for that I am forever grateful.  But it was not near enough!  I love you brother, save us a spot!

Memories of Tom

He made a difference for many who never knew his name, and now he has left us.

Tom Fox roamed the north Willamette Valley for more than 15 years helping small business grow and pioneering new approaches to workforce development and efficient manufacturing.  More than once he had to talk his way in a door – but if he got there, unexpected help was on the way.

“Tom was unexpected,” a former colleague remembered, “bold and thoughtful, passionate at times, quiet in his work, he transformed the people and business in our region.  He elevated the workforce system and opened many eyes to the benefits of lean manufacturing.”

Tom arrived in Salem, Oregon in 1995 to take a job as Regional Business Development Officer for the Oregon Economic Development Department.

Big and small, Tom served them all.  He played a key role in bringing a UPS Distribution Center to the Salem Industrial Center after years of that property lying vacant, while directing loans and grants to local small business es looking to grow.  Betty Lou Inc’s, Solid Form Fabrication, Northwest UAV, Metal Innovation Inc., Oregon Ballistic Laboratories and many other area manufacturers benefitted from Tom’s work moving mountain in the background.

“When I was a novice in economic development, I remember Tom saying, ‘I am not a bureaucrat, and boy was that true!’ “I was honored to know Tom – he left an indelible mark on me and on Oregon’s economic development community.”

Another state colleague remembers how Thomas and fellow business development officers from around the state hated doing business retention cold calls, largely due to an oversupply of rejections.

“Tom always called companies and they said he was from the governor’s office, and use that as a way to get in the door with companies. They never said no! “

Tom made a lifetime habit of getting in the door and most of those he encountered benefited by way of his efforts.

“He was such a great partner to SEDCOR,” Erik Anderson, current Executive Director, added, “as well as a real driver for workforce and manufacturing training that is so common today.”

Messages of Sympathy

  1. Greg LeRoy says:

    For those of us who knew Tom in the late 70s and 80s in Chicago and then a little in the 90s in San Diego and later in Oregon, reading about his Oregon years is both fascinating and yet unsatisfying. Maybe we should try to assemble a collection of memories (looking at you, Shurna, Schachter, Murray, Wysocki et al). I remember a pithy military vet who listened to State Farm's announcement it would create an insurance availability office like in Maywood and he declared it their "Redlining Office." I remember Tom in a bandana huddling with Trapp in a noisy (i.e., hard to surveil) New Orleans restaurant, head to head, plotting the next hit on the American Bankers Assn convention we were marauding. I remember a guy who could bluff his way on the phone into executives' offices by acting like a harried colleague. I remember his pride winning a San Diego press award for the investigative reporting his CDC-sponsored newspaper published. I remember a world-class sloganeer who in another life was a gifted ad copy writer. And you all?

  2. Ted Wysocki says:

    These are all poignant comments here on Tom's memorial page.
    It was an honor to be part of Tom's "extended" organizing family nationally and in Chicago.

    Before his move to San Diego, Tom & I were sailing buddies.
    We especially enjoyed an early morning sail on Lake Michigan before a long day at the office.

    Here's a toast to Tom & from him to all he knew [The Parting Glass from Waking of Ned Devine]

    Oh all the comrades that e'er I've had
    Are sorry for my going away
    And all the sweethearts that e'er I've had
    Would wish me one more day to stay
    But since it falls unto my lot
    That I should rise and you should not
    I'll gently rise and I'll softly call
    Good night and joy be with you all

    Bless you Fox!

  3. Larry Fox says:

    In a world that seems lacking in honorable men these days my brother Tom is the True Measure of a Man. Kind, compassionate, loving, inspiring , respectful to all and the toughest most fearless man you’ll ever know. It is my good fortune to have 5 older brothers who’ve all helped guide me through this life. Tom’s wisdom, humor and selflessness has been invaluable for me. From our camping trips in mountains of Colorado to camping on beaches in Mexico his “we’ll figure it out when we get there “ attitude was infectious and inspiring. Tom’s willingness to help those need with a hand up made this world a better place. I love you my brother, may your spirit soar! Mix me up a bourbon on ice and I’ll see you on the other side.

  4. Sallie Baker says:

    I met Tom when he was an organizer in 1985. We were friends for the rest of my life. He loved with his brain. Action followed analysis. When he was recovering from a stroke, I listened with admiration as he struggled to carve thoughts into words. He was a fighter, clearing thickets. Journey well, Tom. I miss you sorely. Sallie

  5. Gary Fox says:

    My brother was a mystery. I often wonder if anyone really knew him completely. He could tell you stories that would bust your gut, and follow up with one that would raise the hair on the back of your neck.
    He used to say to me "I don't know everything about one thing, but I know one thing about EVERYTHING" and I can say that I saw that in action a number of times, he could talk to you about whatever it was you did for a living and convince you he was an expert. Then he would grin and walk away.
    I don't know if there is an afterlife or not, but if so, Tom is straightening things out and organizing things about now.

  6. Margaret Lindsay says:

    I finished reading "The Jiggers Man" just a couple of weeks before Tom's death. It made me smile reading it, and thinking of my tough but sweet cousin. Rest in peace, Tom.

  7. Staff of Johnson Funeral Home says:

    Thank you for trusting Johnson Funeral Home with his arrangements.

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