Thomas J. Longman (1935–2008)

Yesterday I attended the memorial potluck lunch for Tom Longman who died on July 20. It was held at the Marin Rod and Gun Club in San Rafael, at the shore of the San Francisco Bay and just around the corner from San Quentin.

I had learned of his death two days after it occurred. There was an announcement with a color photo of him mounted on the closed door of the entry kiosk at Sky Oaks Entrance Station of the Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD), a kiosk he had "manned" for ten years.

He greeted one and all who entered the watershed for a hike, to fish, or picnic. He always greeted me by name, was unfailingly cheerful and good humored, and, if I was really lucky, shared his marvelous dry wit. I talked with him almost weekly for many years.

I felt a great loss when I read his death notice. It said a memorial service was being planned. At that moment I determined to attend and give testimony to his remarkable good will that always managed to gild the lily of my hikes.

I was not alone. Nearly 200 people showed up with the same motivation! He not only made me feel singularly appreciated, he performed the same service to each of the hundreds of people who visited his area of the watershed. The memorial service was organized by his employer, the MMWD. Their stories and damp eyes brought Tom into unexpected focus. I will miss him even more.

Tom's passing was swift. In apparent good health, he dropped dead of a heart attack while on the job. Three District rangers attempted to revive him, in vain. They miss him more sharply than I.

Thank you Tom, and bon voyage.

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Written: 8-17-2008.