Thomas Leroy Bair, Tom, Tommy, Uncle Tom, Dad, Papa passed away peacefully on Monday, June 11, 2018, at his home in Joplin after a long hard fight with cancer. Tom was born on August 21st, 1933 to Mildred (Mills) and John Elijah Bair in Webb City Missouri. Tom was the youngest of six; brothers John Robert, Frank and Floyd and sisters Mary (Manard) and Anita (Lummus).
After graduating from Webb City High School, he joined the Navy in 1951 and was assigned to the USS Curtiss with the home port in San Diego CA. The ship was deployed to the South Pacific, Marshall Islands- Bikini Atoll where they took part in operations Ivy and Castle, which detonated a series of thermonuclear bombs including the United States first hydrogen bomb. In 1953 Tom received an honorable discharge from the navy, received the National Defense Service Medal, returned home and attended Joplin Junior College and then Pittsburg State University where he played football for the Gorillas and earned a MS in Marketing. After graduating, Tom began working for Eagle Picture where he ascended to the position of Manager of Quality Management and represented the company and monitored battery performance for the first manned space flights (Mercury, Gemini and Apollo) at Kennedy Space Center.
In 1957 Tom married Fern Conner and then had a daughter and a son, Alison and Brian. In 1966, Tom accepted a job with Texas Instruments as the Senior Engineer for the quality control division working on both military and commercial manufacturing including involvement in the design of the first “smart bombs”. He retired from Texas Instruments after 27 years living in Richardson, Sherman and Houston Texas and Versailles Kentucky. Tom and Fern moved back to the Webb City – Joplin area in 1996 where he started a Quality Management business and experimented and developed recreation equipment as a hobby.
Tom attended the Royal Heights Methodist Church in Joplin. Tom loved his grandchildren and loved to fish and often combined the two by often traveling to Washington State to be with his Grandchildren Eli and Nadia and to fish for salmon. Tom was also an ardent Webb City Cardinals football and baseball fan and enjoyed attending games and listening to them on the radio. Tom also loved animals, dogs in particular, and was often seen riding his bike or walking with his four-legged companions. Tom was also extremely patriotic and very proud of his service in defense of our country.
Tom was preceded in death by his parents, brothers John and Frank, sisters Mary (Manard) and Anita (Lummus). Tom is survived by his wife of 61 years Fern, his brother Floyd of Englewood, Florida, daughter Alison of Overland Park, Kansas, son Brian of Stevenson, Washington and grandchildren Eli and Nadia and beloved dog Sammy. In addition, Tom leaves behind many nieces and nephews and numerous other family and friends.
Funeral services for Mr. Bair are 11:00 am Thursday at Royal Heights United Methodist Church. Rev. Gary Thomas and Rev. Tracy Bair will officiate. Following the service, Mr. Bair will be buried with full military honors at Ozark Memorial Park Cemetery. The family will receive friends at a time of visitation at 10:00 am Thursday at the church, prior to the service.
In lieu of flowers, please make memorial contributions to Royal Heights United Methodist Church in care of the mortuary.
Arrangements are under the direction of Mason-Woodard Mortuary & Crematory.