Tom was born in Schulenberg, Texas and lived on a farm where his family grew corn, cotton, and beans. He says he learned to be self-reliant from his parents: “When you grow up on a farm, you are half-mechanic. My daddy was half-mechanic—he had to fix that old machinery—that’s where I got it from.”
At 18, Tom enlisted in the Army and was sent to the Pacific during World War II. He went to many countries, including Australia, Japan, and the Philippines, and says, “If I had the money now, I would go on that trip again!”
Tom moved to Huntsville, TX when the war ended and began school to be an auto mechanic. He spent much of his time in Conroe, TX with a Catholic Youth Organization he started, with Shirley at the helm as Treasurer. Their first date was at Lodge 88 for polka dancing, even though Shirley was more of a Jitterbug girl. They had a wonderful time, and Tom asked Shirley for a second date right then and there. She agreed with the caveat that she “never wanted to play second fiddle!” And she never did—they married two years later.
Shirley always liked Houston, and in 1960 the couple bought a house in the Garden Oaks area. They raised eight children while Tom worked as an auto mechanic and Shirley traveled to nursing homes and hospitals all over Houston as a nurse to care for patients. When they were younger, the two of them delivered Meals on Wheels to seniors in their neighborhood. Now, Shirley relies on others to care for her, as she is bedridden with Alzheimer’s.
Tom used to cook for himself and Shirley, but with a back injury and a walker to get around, it is hard on him to stand up for too long. Meals on Wheels helps Tom make sure he can give Shirley the care she needs—and Tom would do anything to help Shirley. Sitting in a living room, walls lined with family photos, Tom is grateful. Of Shirley he says, “She took care of all of us, I just want her to be taken care of…I really couldn’t have picked a better partner in life. I don’t do much for myself but when it comes to her, I spare no expense, she is really worth it.”
Tom and Shirley are two of over 4,000 seniors served each day by IM’s Meals on Wheels for Greater Houston. Learn more about volunteering or donate to help make sure seniors like Tom and Shirley can receive this vital service.