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A Mass will be celebrated at 3 p.m. May 4 at St. Jude Catholic Church in Eugene for Thomas W. “Tom” Brinton of Eugene, 79, who died Apr8l 6, 2007, of colon cancer.
Better known as Tom or Tommy to his friends and relatives, he was the last of a generation of old time printers. Tom worked at The Record-Courier from age 14, alongside his father Charles, and his brothers and sisters.
Tom was the youngest of the eight children born to Charles McKay Brinton and Elizabeth Muller Brinton. Tom spent his childhood in Haines. He attended college at Eastern Oregon State College in La Grande. He missed World War II, and stayed home to help his father keep The Record-Courier going.
Tom was one of the last of a generation of printers who used a linotype machine. The old machine taken recently from The Record-Courier to the Oregon Trail Regional Museum, was Tom’s constant companion for many years.
At The Record-Courier tom met Wilrose Ferguson Driskell whom he married on December 16, 1949. Six children were born to the marriage and Tom adopted Wilrose’s son David, making it seven. He had married into a family of practicing Catholics and he attended Mass every Sunday with his wife and children. He was baptized into the faith in 1964, and he held to it for all of his life.
The family moved to Eugene when Wilrose took a teaching job in Springfield. Tom greatly missed the Elkhorn Mountains, Anthony Lakes, and the streams and meadows of Eastern Oregon. Even though city living was not to his liking, he adapted well. He took a job at the journalism department of the University of Oregon, and later at the Eugene Register Guard. He continued at the Register Guard until his retirement in 1995.
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Eugene brought Tom the opportunity to pursue his great love, running. Tom became an elite runner in Masters Track, and was known as “Sprintin’ Brinton”. He won numerous medals and awards. He completed the Iron Man Triathlon in Hawaii when he was 57 years old. He won many races at Hayward field and at many other venues. He embarrassed some of his children and gained the admiration of others by learning to ride a unicycle and riding it to work to celebrate his 50th birthday. He also learned to sail and the family spent many fine days at Fern Ridge Reservoir.
Tom became a master gardener, composted everything biodegradable and some things that weren’t. Old running shoes could be found in his compost pile. He produced a bumper crop of vegetables and flowers every year in his back yard. Tom’s grown children in Eugene often woke to find a grocery bag full of seasonal homegrown food and a bouquet of flowers on their door step.
Tom and Wilrose divorced in 1974 after 25 years of marriage. Although both remarried, they remained friends and the family continued to thrive. Tom married Joyce Rose in 1986.
Tom was a quiet unpretentious man. He returned often to the mountains near Baker City to hunt and to fish and to restore his soul. For some years he hunted with bow and arrow and once killed a bear, to his own amazement, and that of everyone else.
He loved to hike into Crawfish Meadows at Anthony Lakes and to bring out Eastern Brook Trout to be pan-fried and shared. Every year after the children were grown he organized a family reunion at Anthony Lakes. Every year there are more people at the reunion as the family grows. This year his children will take his ashes back to Crawfish Meadows and there he will spend eternity, in a place he called paradise. The family reunions will continue, and his children and grandchildren, and great grandchildren, will visit him there every August.
Survivors include his wife; two sons, John of Salem and Joseph of Portland; four daughter, Elizabeth Brinton of Kirkland, Washington, Meg Brinton of Ridgefield, Washington, and Jean Brinton and Annette O’Brien, both of Eugene; two brothers, Don and Tim both of Eugene; two sisters, Elizabeth EdShetler of Eugene and Ardis Cousin of Paso Robles, California; l0 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. A daughter, Gayla Brinton, died previously.
A memorial gathering will follow the Mass at the parish center.
Arrangements by Andreason’s Cremation and Burial Service in Springfield.
Used with permission from: The Record Courier, Baker City, Oregon, April, 2007
Transcribed by: Belva Ticknor