Tom, as he was known by all, was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1934. He grew up with his parents and sister in Saratoga Indiana. Tom attended Muncie High School, where he graduated as Valedictorian. He graduated from Ball State University, where he was a Theta Chi, in 1956 with a degree in Business. He was awarded both an MBA and a MS in Taxation from Golden Gate University. He later taught at Golden Gate University, mentoring and befriending many of his students.
Tom was commissioned into the US Air Force in 1956. He served 26 years, and retired in 1982.
Tom flew jet fighter planes for most of his career. He served ten years in the US Defense Command, as well as three tours of duty in Vietnam. Tom served as the Squadron Commander for the 561st Tactical Fighter Squadron. He flew 242 combat missions over Southeast Asia as an elite pilot in the Wild Weasel Program, a program so secret that Tom could not tell his family for the first two years.
Tom was awarded many medals during his time in the Air Force. Among them are: The Legion of Merit, Three Distinguished Flying Crosses, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Meritorious Service Medal, 27 Air Medals and Two Air Force Commendation Medals.
After Tom retired from the Air Force, he continued to serve as a member of the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots’ Association, and the Order of Daedalians, and as a founding member of the Air Warrior Courage Foundation. He was also an active member of the Kiwanis Clubs in Apple Valley, California, and Tyler, Texas. He was known for his generosity, helping hundreds of families and fellow warriors through his charitable work.
Tom’s second career was as an Enrolled Agent Tax Practitioner, both in California and in Texas. He served many of his clients for twenty years before he turned them over to his daughter, Linda, who has now served them for another twenty.
Tom was an avid fisherman and enjoyed sharing his love of fishing with his children and grandchildren. He enjoyed a good game of golf, and he was ruthless on the croquet field.
Tom’s greatest joy was his grandchildren. While he was the consummate professional, with his grandchildren he was always on their level, allowing them to guide play and conversation.
Tom sang in the choir at the Methodist Church, and for many years served as Santa Claus for children at the local Fire Station.
Tom is survived by his wife of 32 years, Barbara Halley. He is also survived by his former wife, Nancy Robinson.
Tom is survived by his and Barbara’s children Cathy and Dan Ferrarese, Tom Halley II, Linda and Steve Glau, Doug and Shelley Halley, Randy and Celina McCauley, and Rick McCauley, and his niece and nephews Lisa and John Kettler, Ron and Lisa Angel, and Michael and Carol Angel.
He is also survived by seven grandchildren, one great-grandson, and nine grand nieces and nephews.
Tom was predeceased by his sister Judy Angel, his brother Marvin Halley, and his parents, Clark and Mary Halley.
A memorial service will be held at Jackson’s Burks Walker Tippit Chapel on Friday, January 24, at 2 pm. The interment of ashes with full Military Honors will be held at the Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, California, at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you please make a donation to the Air Warrior Courage Foundation. (https://www.airwarriorcourage.com) To view online, please go to, www.burkswalkertippit.com.