Obituary for Thomas Greenlee
A big personality with a love for his family, friends and life, Tom Greenlee, formerly of Tionesta PA died Thursday, March 9, 2017 after a long struggle with the after effects of Agent Orange exposure during his tours in Viet Nam.
Tom was born in Pittsburgh, the second of nine children of Dr. Daniel Paul and Audrey Greenlee, and grew up in Waynesburg. After graduating from Penn State in 1962 with a degree in Zoology and Entomology, Tom entered pilot training in the Navy and served as a helicopter pilot in the elite helicopter squadron known as the U.S. Navy Seawolves. With his extraordinary flying skills, he later qualified and served as a carrier pilot and also flew as an instructor pilot for the Air Force. His service earned him two Distinguished Flying Crosses and 32 Air Medals. He also flew with the U. S. Army National Guard after completing 10 years of active duty including three tours in Viet Nam.
Tom’s love of the outdoors was foremost throughout his life. After military service he moved to Tionesta and opened the Forest County Sports Center. His friend Mike Boyle reminisces that the Sports Center was a really big store with a big reach in a small town. Having quality products from Orvis and Pendleton available along with Tom’s knowledge of hunting and fishing, and his intriguing stories, gave the store a reach and attraction and stature belied by its size and location. Out of state licenses were often seen in front of the store.
His daughter Erin calls him “a gentle giant whose life rivaled a fictional action hero’s…it’s hard to believe one person lived a life so completely and fearlessly. He loved, laughed and lived passionately.”
During his time in Tionesta Tom served as a probation officer for Forest County and as mayor of Tionesta. He also served as a Commissioner for the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
After retiring Tom and his wife Martha moved to Baskerville VA and continued their love of the outdoors. Tom pursued his interest in developing their farm for quail habitat and loved spending hours on the tractor. Martha tells us “While a bird hunter first, Tom was always supportive of my interest in field trialing and helped me train a lot of Brittany’s. He enjoyed scouting dogs on his horse Concho and riding in the gallery to watch a good dog performance; but nothing filled him with joy as much as playing with little puppies. AKC Pointing Breeds Gun Dog Champion Piney Run Lily was his favorite.”
Tom is survived by his wife Martha Greenlee; his children, Erin Greenlee (Rob O’Donnell) of Huntersville NC, his son Jason Greenlee of Youngsville PA and his grandchildren Reilley O’Donnell and Eamon O’Donnell. Also surviving are his siblings Janet Rohanna, Betsy Greenlee, Nancy Jackson, Mary Jane Markle, Paula Greenlee, John Greenlee and Marte Dobosh. He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother William.
A memorial service will be held at 2pm, Sunday March 26 at Farrar Funeral Chapel in South Hill VA.Online condolences may be placed at www.farrarfuneralhome.net. The family suggests memorial considerations be made to Special Olympics of Pennsylvania, 2570 Blvd. of the Generals, Ste 124, Norristown, PA 19403.