Officer, gentleman, trusted friend, and beloved husband and father, Thomas Allen Kamm (RADM USNR Ret.) died of congestive heart failure on March 21, 2020 at the age of 94. By all who knew him, Tom was respected for his keen mind, strong ethical convictions, and wonderful sense of humor. Those closest to him were also blessed by his love and devotion to his family and his wife of more than 70 years, Geraldine Virginia (Leek) Kamm.
Thomas A. Kamm was born on June 10, 1925 in Lynden, WA, son of Charles Kamm and Teena (Kampen) Kamm. During the Depression, Tom moved to his grandparents’ farm in Lynden, attending a one-room elementary schoolhouse. After school, he hung out at a local airfield, taking his first flight at age 11 as “co-pilot” in an Aeronca C-3. From that moment, Tom recognized his true calling. At 14 he served as a U.S. House of Representatives page, where his father was aide to Congressman Warren Magnuson. After graduating from Lynden HS, Tom enrolled at the University of Washington and joined the Navy V-12 Program. He was commissioned as a naval aviator after flight training in Corpus Christi, TX. At the close of WWII, he returned to UW where he was a proud member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity and a local star of track and field. Most importantly, it was at UW where Tom met and married the love of his life, Geraldine, in 1948.
Tom and Gerry loved adventure. After graduation, they moved to Pensacola, FL for US Naval Reserve (USNR) flight training. That was followed by a move to Coronado, CA, where daughter Kristine was born. Following Tom’s Korean War tours in the Pacific, the family spent seven years in Detroit, MI where son Tom Jr. was born. While working for the Ralph C. Wilson Insurance Agency, and flying as a reservist, Tom earned a JD from University of Detroit Mercy. His law degree and insurance acumen led them to Orinda, CA where he joined Oakland’s Grubb and Ellis Company in its infancy. In 1961, Tom was recalled to active duty. The family moved to Yokohama, Japan where Tom flew anti-submarine and transport planes between Japan, mainland Asia, and offshore aircraft carriers of the 7th Fleet. The years that followed saw a continuous succession of promotions advancing through grades to rear admiral. Tom’s postings in the chain of USNR command included three tours through the Pentagon retiring as Deputy Director of Naval Reserve. During Tom’s first tour at the Pentagon, he also earned an LLM in International Law at George Washington University.
After retiring from the Navy in 1980, Tom and Gerry returned to Orinda. Tom practiced law and lectured at Golden Gate University School of Law. Eventually the couple retired to their ranch near Healdsburg, CA. There they raised cattle, traveled to nearly every continent, and created a family homestead beloved by their children and grandchildren.
RADM Thomas A. Kamm was the recipient of campaign theater medals, and the Meritorious Service Medal and Legion of Merit. He was a proud member of Sempervirens Camp at the Bohemian Club, the American Bar Association, the Naval Reserve Association, San Francisco Fly Casting Club, and Thunderbird Country Club. Tom was an avid golfer and fisherman. He loved football, business, politics, and aviation, continuing as a private pilot until late in life. But most of all, he loved Gerry. Tom survived Gerry’s death by a mere seven months. Tom will be missed by all who knew him and most missed by those who survive him: daughter Kristine E. Kamm (spouse James Stull), son Thomas A. Kamm, Jr. (spouse Kelly Saunders), and grandchildren Emily, Caroline, and Erin Kamm, and Travis Stull.
Tom and Gerry will be laid to rest together at Arlington National Cemetery. Memorial contributions in Tom’s honor may be sent to a charity of one’s choice.