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E. Thomas Wightman

E. Thomas Wightman Jr.

Thursday, June 18th, 2020
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Obituary

Ernest Thomas Wightman, Jr., came into this world on May 24, 1943 and passed on to Heaven on June 18, 2020. Along the way, Tom touched the lives of countless family members, friends, and patients. He was a devoted husband of 54 years, an incredible father, amazing granddad, and a wonderful friend to so many. Tom had numerous passions, including being an accomplished pilot with thousands of hours in various airplanes, an avid fisherman, a National and State Park enthusiast, an award-winning photographer, a World War II history buff, a wonderful supporter/photographer of his children’s and grandchildren’s sports or events, and most recently, a bird watcher.

Tom had a huge heart, a moral compass like no other, a great sense of humor, and was always ready to help. He taught his grandchildren numerous things, helped with many projects, and was their biggest fan. Tom loved his children, grandchildren, and grand-dog, but he loved his wife even more. He had a huge collection of dear friends and family, who were incredibly supportive during his final months. The family is grateful for the wonderful assistance of caregiver Maria. Surrounded by the love of his family, Tom was a doer and a fighter until the very end.

Tom was born in Morgantown, WV, to Ernest T. Wightman, Sr., and Mildred Read Wightman. He graduated Lafayette Junior High (where he met his future wife) and Lafayette High School in Lexington, KY. He was a decorated swimmer with multiple state records, which helped Tom secure a swimming scholarship to the University of Kentucky. Tom had the largest newspaper route in the city and earned the rank of Eagle Scout. As an Assistant Scout Master of Troop #363, he and others were featured in Boys Life Magazine, as it chronicled “Operation Huskey,” a three-month, coast-to-coast journey with 33 Boy Scouts, who cooked out and camped each night. In 1961, Tom graduated from LHS and enrolled at UK. While swimming all four years at UK, he majored in Physics, was a member of the Air Force ROTC, and was also a professional photographer. ROTC included flying lessons at Bluegrass Field in Lexington, KY, and a lifelong passion for flying was ignited.

After graduating from UK, Tom was sent to pilot training at Laredo Air Force Base, where he trained in T-37s and T-38s. He married the love of his life Dot in May 1966. Following pilot training, Tom was stationed at McChord Air Force Base in Tacoma, WA, where he flew C-141s. During the Vietnam War, Tom served a year in country as a Forward Air Controller flying the O1. He separated from the Air Force with the rank of Major to start a family and attend the University of Kentucky Medical School. They were blessed with two beloved children - their daughter Jennifer (born January 1971) and their son Thomas (born January 1974). While at UK Medical School, he flew RF101s and F4s for the Kentucky Air National Guard and was the subject of several military publications highlighting the “Flying Doctor’s” experience.

After medical school, Tom started his medical career in the Emergency Room at Central Baptist Hospital in Lexington, KY, and then moved into private practice. In 1986, he accepted a position in the American Airlines Medical Department and moved the family to Arlington, TX. In 1990, Tom joined the Air Force Reserves at Carswell Air Force Base, where he served for several years, including active duty in Operation Desert Storm. Tom subsequently went back into private practice and was known for his sincere empathy and comforting bedside manner. He helped others as a trusted and valued medical advisor and mentored young healthcare professionals. In addition, he flew Angel Flight patients to treatments, volunteered at a local free clinic, and participated on mission trips to Honduras. Tom also found time to make lasting memories through family vacations. One of the highlights of his adventurous life was when Tom and a close friend flew a small twin engine plane from Arlington, TX, to Glasgow, Scotland to meet his family. He ultimately retired at the age of 70 in 2013.

Tom did not slow down in retirement. Instead, he increased his support of others by volunteering for several years at the Cornerstone Charitable Clinic in Fort Worth, TX. He also served as the President of the Tarrant County Medical Society and on its Scholarship Committee. Additionally, Tom was an active member of the Arlington Rotary Club as well as the Rotary’s Scholarship Committee. Tom was also an active member of First United Methodist Church of Arlington and forged many enduring friendships in the Lamplighters Sunday School class. He was a “repeat” student in the Fly-Fishing class at Tarrant County Community College. He was a true adventurer, a steadfast provider, and an incredible role model, who will be greatly missed. As in the poem “High Flight”, known by many aviators and military heroes, he has “slipped the bonds of earth…and touched the face of God.”

Tom was preceded in death by his parents, daughter Jennifer, nephew Chris Doyle, and brother-in-law Pat Doyle. He is survived by his wife Dot, son Thomas (Misty) of Dallas, beloved grandchildren Jake and Kate, sister Jane Lessac (Al) of Milwaukee, nephew Mark (Lauren) of Milwaukee and niece Eryn (Dan) of Milwaukee, sister-in-law Margaret Doyle of Frankfort, niece Tracey Doyle (Bill) of Frankfort, and many dear cousins and other extended family members.

A celebration of Tom’s life will be held at some point in the future, and he will be buried at Lexington Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in honor of Dr. Tom Wightman to First United Methodist Church of Arlington, 313 N. Center Street Arlington, TX, 76011-7593 or Arlington Rotary Scholarship Foundation Webb Scholarship Fund (please mail to Walter Virden, 1205 South Bowen, Arlington, TX, 76013).

Wade Family Funeral Home
(817) 274-9233
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BM

Bob Mena

Posted at 05:48pm
We will always remember Tom’s deep devotion and love for his family, Dot, Thomas, Misty and especially for his two grandchildren, Jake and Kate. No matter the occasion, our conversation always included our grandkids in which you would sense the special place he had in his heart for them.

His accomplishments showed in his love of life, his warm heart and his desire to help others and always with a smile.

Our traditional family gatherings for the holidays will be remembered as some of the best times spent with Tom. His smile and light humor helped us enjoy the occasion and forget everything else. As our three families, Wightman, Morris and Mena, shared our homes for all occasions, Tom would take pictures and share them with all of us. His photos captured the transition in which we all became one loving family.

We are thankful for the time we spent together and for all of the great memories. He will always be in our hearts.

May he rest in peace with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob & Gloria Mena
KM

Kris and Veronica Morris

Posted at 04:56pm
Dr. Tom was a great example of how to live your life. He loved his family and serving others. He lived an impressive life full of a large range of accomplishments in the medical profession, flying, photography, and the great outdoors. Tom very rarely spoke of any of those accomplishments and we learned about most of them from others.

He always had a smile on his face especially when he was around his family. He had a special relationship with both his grandchildren Jake and Kate. Tom was always present at their activities and was always able to capture the moment with his camera. Our kids both considered Tom a 3rd Grandfather who always showed interest in their activities and who always had a friendly smile and always taught them something about whatever their current interest was at the time. He will be greatly missed by our family. Dot, Thomas, Misty, Kate and Jake will be in our prayers.

Kris and Veronica
J

Johnwtatman@hotmail.com

Posted at 02:26pm
Tommy will always be in my thoughts and his family in my prayers. 37 years ago Tommy saved my life. His care when I had my stroke and his friendship will always be remembered by me and my family. Rest In Peace old friend , Johnny Tatman.
P

Paul & Brenda

Posted at 02:57pm

Tom's greatest passion was his love for his family - Dot, Thomas, Misty, Jake and Kate. His smile always brightened at the mention of your names. He was so very proud of you all. A devoted Granddaddy, his camera was always ready to catch your special moments. Treasured photographs that have always shown the love for his family..
Tom was one of the kindest and gentlest men I have ever known. His long list of accomplishments show a life well-lived, a beautiful life. A life filled with service and dedication to the medical field.
He was more than a friend, he was family. His quiet, soft-spoken ways will never be forgotten. He will be in our hearts forever.
MF

Maria Aquino Fawcett

Posted at 09:42pm
It was my honor and privilege to work with and along side Tom over many years together at Family Healthcare and to get know & enjoy Dottie. I respected him as a colleague, a family physician, a husband, father, grandfather, pilot and friend. Tom was always happy to share his opinions and humor!
God bless you Dottie, Thomas and ALL your family.
May your many memories sustain you during this difficult time.
Maria, & Dan Fawcett
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