Thomas King Jefferson

By  | June 19, 2022 | Filed under: Laughlin Service Funeral Home, Obituaries

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Thomas King Jefferson of Huntsville passed away on Friday, June 17, 2022, at age 90. He was surrounded by his loving family until the very end. Tom was born on July 10, 1931, in Sumiton, Alabama. At the age of 17 he attended the University of Alabama for six quarters. He wanted to play football but wasn’t big enough to play so he transferred to Howard College, now known as Samford University. He played football for two years at Howard College as a half-back and was proud to have played alongside renowned coach Bobby Bowden. He also played two years of basketball at Howard as a guard.

The Korean War was underway, and he wanted to fight in it. In March of 1952 Tom joined the US Naval Aviation Cadet Program where he learned to fly jets. He went to Advanced Training in Corpus Christi, Texas and then came back to Pensacola, Florida to learn to land on aircraft carriers. He earned his wings and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Marine Corps. His first duty station was the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro located in California. From there he was sent to Korea. He was then stationed at the US Naval Air Facility Atsugi in Japan. He was proud to have played on the 1954 Far East Military Championship football team. He was a 3rd string quarterback who played as much as the starters because the team was so good. After leaving Japan, Tom was sent to Whiting Field, Florida to become a Primary Flight Instructor. Only six months later, he was asked to become a member of the US Navy Air Demonstration Team, commonly known as the Blue Angels. Tom flew as Lead Solo Pilot Blue Angel #5 in both the F-9 Cougar and F-11 Tiger. In 1958 he was transferred to Marine Corps Base in Kane’ohe Bay, O’ahu. During his time there as a Blue Angel, he became a member of the Marine Corps Skeet Shooting Team and was sent to Virginia Beach, Virginia to compete in the World Championship Skeet Shooting Tournament. While with the Blue Angels, he traveled all over the United States entertaining thousands of spectators with aerobatic maneuvers that were simply amazing to watch.

After his service to the country, Tom attended law school at the University of Alabama. On a whim, he wrote a letter to Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant asking if the athletic department needed a pilot. Lucky for him, Coach Bryant did, and Tom was hired by the university. Tom had so many exciting stories of his time with the Alabama football team, particularly witnessing the 1960 team go on to win the National Championship in 1961. During his time as pilot at the university, Coach Bryant referred to Tom as “Sky King”, a nickname that followed him throughout his life. He had such fond memories of flying both Coach Bryant and University President, Dr. Frank Rose. Fortunately, he flew Dr. Rose to Huntsville on several occasions where he became interested in and learned about Huntsville. After graduating from the Alabama School of Law in 1963, he moved to Huntsville and joined the law firm of Martinson, Manning & White. A year later he went into single law practice, serving the community for over 50 years. In his spare time, he loved to fish and was an avid golfer. Tom loved his many friends dearly and was loved and revered in return. Over the years, he deeply loved his dogs Jack, Tommie Girl, Mattie and Tommie.

Tom was preceded in death by his parents, Wintford Vernon Jefferson of Walker County and Vinita Obetrice Jefferson (nee King) of Cullman County, as well as his first wife, Beverly D. Tague and daughter-in-law Mary Ann Jefferson (Mark). He is survived by second wife, Carol Greenwood; children, David Jefferson (Margie) of Elkmont, AL, Lisa Jefferson of Madison, AL, Mark Jefferson of Huntsville, AL, Joe Jefferson of Huntsville, AL, and Kellei Johnstone (Seth) of Decatur, GA; and four precious grandchildren, Brad, Wade, Eli and Ava.

Tom wanted to thank his physicians Dr. Sadasiva Katta, Dr. Jesse Faulk, as well as the physicians and staff at Huntsville Hospital and Hospice Family Care. Their concern and care were greatly appreciated by Tom and his family.

The memorial service will be held at Laughlin Service Funeral Home on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, at 1:00 p.m. Visitation will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Burial will follow at Maple Hill Cemetery.

Flowers and/or memorial contributions to the Huntsville Animal Services Foundation are equally welcome.

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