We mourn the loss of our father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, Thomas Peter Kressin, who passed on to Heaven on June 12, 2023, at the age of 93.
Tom Kressin was a man set apart. Defying all odds, he pulled himself out of Depression-era poverty to be able to support not only himself and Mary, but to varying degrees, his children and their families also.
From day one, Tom was surpassing expectations. He was born on Feb. 22, 1930, during the doom and gloom of a Minnesota winter. He was born two months prematurely, and doctors expected him to die that day. It was before the advent of incubators, so they advised his mother to keep him warm in the oven! At age 6, Tom contracted rheumatic fever and had a 107° fever off and on for 10 days. He was bedridden for months and had to teach himself to walk again.
Tom wanted to buy a bicycle, so at age 9 he got a paper route, leaving home in the dead of night during freezing -30°F Minnesota winters to deliver papers, managing all payments and accounts with numbed fingers. That was his first experience with business, and he diligently saved all his paper boy profits to begin investing in the stock market starting at 10 years old.
Tom traveled all over the world while serving in the military. He was in charge of a small island off of Okinawa and helped prepare the soldiers under his command and the civilians for deadly typhoons.
Always handy and resourceful, he taught himself how to repair electronics and radar equipment. Even though he did not have a college degree, he was asked to teach a calculus class to lower ranking servicemen. After the military, Tom worked as a Honeywell engineer, traveling all over the world as a consultant.
While working for Honeywell, he noticed a fatally defective part in a new plane. He reported this to his supervisor, who did nothing. He knew he had to talk to the General in charge but could not access him. So, he parked in the General's parking spot, got arrested, and was brought to the General...who recognized the severity of the issue and gratefully gave Tom an award for saving lives.
Later, when working as an engineer at Northrup, Tom helped develop an underwater rescue submarine which could recover people on stranded subs below the surface. Again, helping to save lives!
Tom married the love of his life, Mary, in 1959, and they promptly had six children in eight years. Tom felt a deep need to provide for his family and took calculated risks to make that happen. Good fortune, hard work, and risk-taking enabled him and Mary to continue purchasing real estate and buy a home overlooking the ocean in Palos Verdes. Then, as the family grew, they moved to a bigger home there.
Tom didn't believe in "hand-outs." He knew he needed to do it himself. When layoffs were threatened at Northrup, Tom picked a point on a map halfway between LA and San Diego, drove to a realtor there and said, "What job can a man do around here to provide for his family?" He then convinced the owner to sell him Leucadia Liquor without even the down payment in the bank. Tom and Mary moved the family to Carlsbad where the kids grew up.
Back when he was only 19 years old, Tom had bought his first property on the corner of 66th St. and Lindale Ave in Minneapolis, using his savings. Tom continued this investment strategy. He had a knack for seeing real estate deals and gradually acquired many rental properties in North County.
After raising the children in Carlsbad, Tom and Mary moved to La Costa to enjoy the marvelous beach views, and then Leucadia to enjoy the marvelous beach walks. In 2005, they moved to warmer Fallbrook, where a one story home seemed more practical. In Fallbrook, they were active members of the community and dedicated parishioners of St. Peter the Apostle Church.
Between jokes, Tom was always quietly showing kindness and compassion for others.... whether it was giving jobs to down-and-out people who came in our store or helping his tenants living in his rental properties. One man, dying of cancer, had no one to take him to treatments. Without letting anyone know, Tom showed up week after week to help this frail man get to his chemo treatments. We will never know how many people Tom helped because he never talked about it.
Instead of focusing on himself, he chose to focus on the lighter side of life, with his quick wit and unexpected comments that made one laugh and think at the same time. He frequently had his grandchildren and great-grandchildren laughing uproariously at his jokes.
Tom saw opportunity in every situation. He taught his six children and 16 grandchildren that with every setback comes a challenge to overcome. He was a model of persistence. He towered among men, not only in physical stature at 6'4", but also in wisdom. Everyone looked up to Tom. His advice was sought by his children, grandchildren, and nieces and nephews.
He adored his wife, Mary, and spoke often of her goodness and intelligence. He was at a loss without her when she passed on less than a year before him. Though he practiced Depression-era frugalness in daily life, he showered her with expensive jewelry, and corsages for every holiday. She was the wind beneath his wings for their nearly 63 years of marriage.
Tom was predeceased by his beloved wife, Mary Frances Owens Kressin, and his parents William and Mildred Kressin. He is survived by his six children and their spouses: Maggie (Peter), Peter, Katie, Andrew (Diana), Jim (Cathy), and Joe (Angelina); his grandchildren: Maureen (Nick), Ryan, Brendan, Caitlin, Thomas, Lauren, Jennifer, Mathew (Cheyenne), Sarah, Daniel (Tiffany), Jared, AJ, Mary Cate, Skye, Jacob (Henrietta), and Leah (Jared); his great-grandchildren: Arden, Lennox, Liam, and Audrey; and his brothers: Bill (Marian-deceased), and Jim (Barbara).
Tom loved God and believed firmly in the Catholic faith and morals. He taught us by example how to love our neighbor more than ourselves. He had a quiet faith that spoke through action. He looked forward to everlasting life in Heaven and we will see him again there. On earth, he was larger than life, so watch out Heaven! I'm sure he has them rolling in the aisles with laughter up there! And Mary was certainly there to greet him saying cheerily, "Tom, what took you so long?!?"