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Thomas A. Hemker ’53 was born in Perrysburg, Ohio, on Sept. 21, 1929, and grew up in Sandusky, Ohio. Upon completion of high school, he moved to California to attend SCU, receiving a B.S. in mechanical engineering. Tom later pursued and received degrees in electrical engineering and business administration. He married sweetheart Barbara on June 13, 1953, the same day as his college graduation. It was a busy day, with his graduation ceremony in the morning and his wedding in the afternoon. He and Barbara were inseparable from the time they met as university students, and were always together and best friends during their 63 years of marriage.
Efficiency was always important to Tom! The Korean War was in full swing and soon after they were married, Tom was drafted into the U.S. Army, serving as an engineer at bases in Maryland and Utah. After the war, the couple returned to California, and Tom became part of the burgeoning aerospace industry. As an engineer specializing in missile guidance systems, he worked for Rockwell, Lockheed, MIT, and Hughes. While at MIT, he helped build the guidance systems that took the Apollo astronauts to the Moon and back. After leaving the aerospace industry, Tom became a high school physics teacher and taught for 15 years at Riverside Polytechnic High School. Although he enjoyed teaching, Tom eventually returned to engineering, working for the Department of the Navy during the last 10 years of his career. He and Barbara lived for over 50 years in Villa Park, California, and participated in many city activities and groups, although their priorities in life were family, education, and travel. They shared the responsibilities of parenthood equally and traveled extensively, visiting dozens of countries and every continent, save for Antarctica. Joining daughter Cathleen, Tom left this world on April 7, 2017. His wife died a few months later. He is survived by his two sons, Tom and Rob, two daughters-in-law, Marilyn and Rebecca, five grandchildren, one great-grandchild, and many sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews.