Long-Time OCTA Member Tom McCutcheon 1925-2020
“Tom” Donald T. McCutcheon Jr., 95, passed away Tuesday, November 17, 2020 at Sage View Care Center in Rock Springs, Wyoming. Tom McCutcheon was a resident of Rock Springs for many years after moving from Overland Park, Kansas.
Tom, born January 28, 1925 in Springdale, Pennsylvania; the son of Donald T. McCutcheon Sr. and Sara McDonough.
Tom grew up during the great depression moving often and attending schools in and around Springdale, Pittsburgh, New Kensington, and Washington, Pennsylvania. He worked as a paperboy and painter’s helper in his youth. In the summers he worked concessions at the minor league park in Washington, PA. On one occasion he was working out as a shortstop in view of two former major league players. Although he didn’t understand the significance at the time, he was evaluated by and shook hands with arguably the greatest short stop of all time – Hall of Famer, Honus Wagner.
Tom enlisted in the US Navy in 1943 before graduating from Washington High School. Decades later Tom would receive his Washington High School diploma in a special ceremony for World War II servicemen. He attended US Navy basic training at Sampson, New York. Upon graduation he transferred to the USS Wyoming BB-32 in Norfolk, Virginia, for Pharmacist Mate training. From Norfolk, Tom was shipped across the country, ending up at the Naval Air Station in Norman, Oklahoma, where he was assigned to the Naval Hospital at the University of Oklahoma. From there, he was assigned to the Olathe, Kansas, Naval Air Station in the outskirts of Kansas City. He would serve in Olathe until the end of the WWII. During this time, Tom met his future wife in Kansas City. He married Evelyn R. Cairns in the base chapel in Olathe, Kansas, on January 25, 1945. Upon Honorable Discharge in late 1945 he briefly returned to work at a glass factory in Pennsylvania before returning to Kansas City, Kansas, in 1946 to work at the Stowe Hardware Co. warehouse in the KC stockyards district.
In 1951, he applied and was hired by the phone company. He would end up working for Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. for the next 32 years; first as a lineman climbing icy poles, to switchman, and finally as a building air-conditioning specialist. Many years, he worked night shift as a switchman and then worked at his friend’s used car lot in the daytime. Tom worked in phone facilities throughout East and Central Kansas in his three decades with Ma Bell, where he began to learn about the pioneer trails that began in Kansas and Missouri. He would always identify himself as a telephone man.
He was a member of the Rock Springs United Methodist Church. Tom was a Freemason and Shriner. An avid reader and historical book collector, Tom became an active life member of the Oregon-California Trails Association. His study and research of the Oregon Trail became his lifetime passion. He enjoyed visiting remote trail locations and discovering new artifacts and grave sites. He routinely would guide others on trail excursions in many locations along the Oregon Trail. Because of his personality, he was able to make friends easily. His gregarious nature allowed him to befriend ranchers along the trail and get rare permission to host guided tours on private lands. The State of Wyoming honored his military service with a flight to the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. On the visit he enjoyed talking to and shaking hands with fellow veteran, Senator Bob Dole .
Survivors include one son, Don McCutcheon and his wife Karen of Wenatchee, WA; two daughters, DeAnne Autry of Rock Springs, WY; Donna Watkins and husband Larry of Marion, Illinois; one brother, Tim McCutcheon and wife Ann of Cheswick, PA; one sister, Donna Keefer of Indiana, PA; ten grandchildren, numerous great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
He is preceded in death by his parents, wife, and one sister Judy Allen.
The family respectfully requests any donations be made in Tom’s memory to First United Methodist Church, 1515 Edgar Street, Rock Springs, Wyoming 82901 or Alcove Springs Preservation Association, PO Box 98, Blue Rapids, Kansas 66411.
Cremation has taken place; services will be conducted at a later date.
Condolences may be left at www.vasefuneralhome.com.
Vase Funeral Chapels and Crematory
154 Elk Street
Rock Springs, Wyoming 82901