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November 12, 2013 > Obit: Thomas Arthur Foreman

Obit: Thomas Arthur Foreman

June 23, 1937 to October 7, 2013

Thomas Arthur Foreman was born and raised in Alameda, California, home of a United States Naval base. World War II raged during his childhood and a few years after graduating from high school, he was drafted into the United States Army.

Assigned to Army Intelligence, he soon found himself stationed in Thailand, one of the most exotic countries on earth. He was young, just a kid really, but he soon met a beautiful woman, Wasana Boonatin, and they got married. Later he was transferred to Georgia. The South in the early 1960s offered quite a few challenges for Tom and his bride.

After he was discharged from the Army, Foreman returned to the San Francisco Bay Area and settled in Fremont. Mechanically talented, he began his career in elevator construction. Always filled with a spirit of adventure, he obtained his pilots license and traveled to destinations throughout the West, including the Òback sideÓ of Alaska.

As his three children, Ott, Charles and Ann grew older, he began to take them camping and fishing on weekends, teaching them to love the great out-of-doors. He also taught them to work.

ÒDad bought some rental houses and they always needed repairs,Ó recalled Charlie at a recent memorial service for his father. ÒHe would go to work at 6 oÕclock in the morning and get home about 5:30 at night. Then he would get us busy working on the rentals. He kept us out of trouble.Ó

Tom was an ordinary guy, just a regular fellow, really, but he happened upon a restaurant and an idea took hold; suddenly the family found a new focus: Papillon Restaurant. It soon began to dominate their lives. Tom remodeled the building and the family pitched in to cook, wait tables and do endless repairs and upgrades.

ÒTom loved the restaurant, he loved his patrons and he loved his family,Ó commented his brother, Jerry Foreman. ÒHe was a great guy, with thousands of stories. Soon he had a wonderful wine collection.Ó

Life was goodÉ then an airplane accident in 1982. Foreman almost lost his life, ending up in a wheelchair. This adventurous man, who was constantly on the go, was suddenly faced with new challenges.

ÒGrandpa held the family together,Ó recalled his grandson, Nick. ÒWhen I was young he used to pull me aside and say, ÔYouÕre going to college. No one ever told me that, so IÕm telling you.Õ So I always knew I would go to college. I just finished my Masters Degree in International Studies.Ó

When Tom and Wasana arrived in town, there was no Thai Buddhist Temple where she could worship. Through the years, the Foremans have generously supported that faith. Recently monks at the Fremont Temple held a memorial Thai Buddhist blessing/chant for Thomas.

ÒHe wasnÕt a religious man, but he was a spiritual man,Ó commented Robert Ahrenkiel, who conducted the Celebration of Life, hosted by the family at the Papillon Restaurant. ÒHe was a commercial pilot, a skier, a hunter, a fisherman. He loved to race boats, to travel, to be with his friends and customers at Papillon; but most of all he loved his family, including his six grandchildren.Ó

So in the final analysis, Thomas Foreman was not an ordinary manÉ he was an exemplary man, the kind who loves and cares for his family, who gently turns strangers into friends and who strengthens his community while courageously meeting the challenges of life.


Lila Bringhurst
November 7, 2013

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