Obituary for Lawrence A. Tomlinson

Lawrence Andrew Tomlinson

Lawrence Andrew Tomlinson, 70, died on February 3, 2018. His departure no more expected than for any of us knowing that our time is limited.

Larry, the first of six children of Wesley P. Tomlinson, Jr. (Philadelphia, PA) and Kathryn Lockhart Tomlinson (South Norfolk, VA), was born on May 15, 1947 in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. Larry attended Germantown High School as had his father and uncles. Larry also followed in their footsteps by entering military service. Larry chose to serve his country by enlisting in the Marine Corps. A task-oriented leader, especially in his field in avionics, Larry obtained the rank of Sergeant. After serving his country throughout the United States , Larry served a tour of duty in Viet Nam at the Marine base in Phu Bai where he was awarded two Purple Hearts.

Larry grew up in Germantown where he probably spent as many hours at the YMCA as he did in school, honing his skills in sport as well as leadership. Team sports, baseball, softball, football -whether organized or pick-up - took much of his leisure time. He also had a gift, but no real training for gymnastics. Sports, as with many things Larry pursued, was about the individual challenge to improve his own best performance and was probably his greatest driver.

But unlike his sports-mad Uncle Bob and his fiction driven brother Don, Larry was firmly rooted in reality. Someone who chooses to read Darwin’s Origin of Species and Descent of Man for a high school book report is truly a challenge for any teacher. Larry read to understand – people, historic events, places – those stories were ‘imaginative’ enough for him. A particular interest was the Vikings and he read voraciously on their history and the increasing archaeological finds that were publicized in his childhood. It is very clear that while in this life he would not be an archaeologist, he would read like one.

Upon his return from Viet Nam, Larry undertook the next great challenge in his life by becoming a husband and father. Larry married Jeanne Marie Lumsden on Thanksgiving Day 1970. Four wonderful children followed but they never forgot that they were a couple and, whenever possible, they took trips around the country.

Larry then took on his next, great leadership challenge. While there were few adult softball league competitions in the area (and Larry played with a number of them), Larry chose to pass on his knowledge of sports and the individual competitor by coaching the Olney Track and Field Club. More challenging than dealing with Marines was instilling a love of competition, especially against one’s self, in children. His daughters particularly took up the challenge, Ginny and Beth winning a number of ribbons for their various track successes.

Father and sons bonded in different areas. Andrew followed his father into military service, although his chosen branch of service was the Army. His father’s gift in the kitchen, cooking not just eating, makes Andrew well-loved in his firehouse in Philadelphia’s Fire Department. Youngest son Stephen shared Larry’s love of movies – any movies, all movies -  and their quickfire exchanges of movie dialogue proved that no Tomlinson is quiet when there is a trivia competition at hand.

In typical Baby Boomer fashion, Larry worked jobs, he didn’t pursue a career. His leadership skills were in high demand in a number of smaller local banks and later with small businesses or as he would call them, Mom & Pop operations. Retirement though, left him with a ‘Grandmom & Pop’ operation of grandchildren childcare, which was perhaps his greatest love.

As with many his age, Larry had some on-going health issues that slowed him down a bit and, on occasion, limited his mobility. But he rarely complained. Instead he would develop a plan. Either with or without his doctors, he would learn what he needed to know and figure out what changes he needed to make to diet or exercise. The real point was, just don’t sit there and accept it. Work to make things better. What next?

Larry indicated recently that, when his time came, he would like to have a Viking funeral – such a strange request it had to harken back to a childhood love of archaeology and the movie Beau Geste. So what would Larry take with him to the next world to show his honor and what he loved? He would likely have his Marine uniform, track awards (not his, but those of his children) and pictures, most of all pictures, of family which mattered to him most of all.

Larry is survived by his wife, Jeanne Lumsden Tomlinson, his four children and eight grandchildren.  Virginia (Tomlinson) McNally (Kevin McNally) of Glenside and their children Julia, Kathryn and Colin;  Andrew C. Tomlinson, Elizabeth (Tomlinson) Joseph (Robert Joseph) and their children Ryan Davis, Justin and Abigail all in the immediate Philadelphia area and Stephen M. Tomlinson (Alison Bassett) and their children Eowyn and Evelyn also of Glenside.

Larry is also survived by younger siblings: sister, Gail E. Tomlinson (Stanley C. P. Olkowski III) of Lancaster, PA, and brothers Neil A. Tomlinson and Glenn S. Tomlinson both of Philadelphia.

 Larry was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Donald R. (Don) and a toddler sister, Janice Carol.