Tom was born in Boise, ID on April 22, 1956, to Grace and Bob Wallace. He spent his early years in the Tri Cities and later moved with his parents and sister Debby to Billings, Montana.
After graduating from high school, he enlisted in the Air Force and did his training in Texas before being stationed in Denver.
He later moved to Gold Beach, Oregon, with his children to help his parents build their home and then started taking courses at Coos Bay Community College before being accepted at Oregon Institute of Technology in the Electrical Engineering school. Upon graduation in 1985 he was hired by Boeing in their failure analysis lab. He worked at Boeing for about nine years commuting by kayak from Luana Beach to Des Moines every day of the year regardless of the weather for more than four years. The Des Moines Register wrote an article about him because so many people would watch him paddle into the marina each morning and to make sure he was ok.
Tom said he chose Vashon because he wanted to live in a rural area, and he liked the feel of the Island. He also wanted to raise his children in an area where they had the freedom to play in the woods and have animals to love and care for. He bought Farrier Farm in the late summer of 1985 and started the process of improving the property and the house, there were always multiple projects that he was working on, including building a barn on his own, a building for a sawmill, a pump house building and so much more.
When Tom moved to Vashon he acquired the family’s horses and decided he needed to learn how to care for their hoofs, so he went to a farrier school in Olympia at the community college while working full time at Boeing. He started picking up farrier clients off Island and would work on horses after work and on the weekends. He then started working on the Island and was the farrier for many of the horse community up until he passed away. In fact he put shoes on a long-time client’s horse just three weeks before he died.
Tom met Rebecca after she bought a pony from Doc Eastly in the fall of 1991. Doc told Rebecca that when the pony needed to be reshod, she should call Tom. Rebecca was not aware she should have the horse shod every 6 – 8 weeks and waited 4 months to call for an appointment. Tom came to Headley’s farm on Super Bowl Sunday and Rebecca brought a thermos of coffee thinking that any football fan who came out on a cold winter day must be really kind. It was the least she could do for him. They quickly picked up conversation and a connection was made. Later that spring they both were at a dance at the VFW and gave each other a shy wave. As the last song was being performed, they shared their first dance. One of many to come over the years.
Rebecca had just started college courses at South Seattle Community College in the fall of 1992 with the urging and support of Tom. Tom was also laid off from Boeing later that spring and he was offered some retraining support through Boeing. He decided to go to massage school to work on both humans and horses. Rebecca was choosing a career in Health Care and working on prerequisites before getting accepted into UW School of Nursing. Tom and Rebecca would often spend their evenings going through flash cards for Anatomy and Physiology courses they both had to complete. The kids called them A and P nerds. Tom and Rebecca were married on July 24th, 1999, with all their children in attendance as well as more than 150 guests, some invited and some just showed up. Doc Eastly performed the ceremony. Tom was volunteering at the fire department at that time and many of his FD teammates showed up, some in Aid cars and maybe there was even a fire truck. Portage Fill provided the music, and the dancing was in full swing. By the end of the night there was no grass left in front of the band.
Tom and Rebecca loved to do everything together, horse camping, boating, skiing, traveling to Hawaii many times and to Italy with Rebecca’s parents and her son Bryce.
Tom continued to do farrier work and later started driving the school bus which he enjoyed despite the kids being loud and rowdy at times. It helped that he was a bit hard of hearing, so the noise did not bother him too much. In his own quiet way, he became a beloved driver, but the kids always listened when he told them to shut up and sit down.
Tom was diagnosed with Cancer in the winter of 2021. He was strong and stoic and never complained. His last days came so quickly, it was shocking how fast he left us.
He will forever be in our hearts, and we will feel his love on the beautiful farm that he worked so hard on and had so many dreams and plans yet to be completed. One of the last things he said to Rebecca was that he just wished he had more time and energy to complete more projects.
Tom will be remembered fondly and missed by his wife Rebecca Benson. Children Brandi (Nate) Lubliner, Jeremy (Sandra) Wallace, Dylan (Christian) Benito, and Bryce (Keri) Groff.
Grandchildren, Deegan, Jesper, Herbert, Kieran, Rainier and Summer. Sister Debby (Joel) McGehee.
There will be a memorial service on September 10th at 3:00pm at Dig Deep 19028 Vashon Hwy, Vashon, Washington followed by a live auction and silent auction to benefit the Farrier Farm and Tom’s family. Sponsored by the Vashon Maury Island Horse Association, this will run from 5:00 – 8:00pm also at Dig Deep.