Thomas Gary Dunham
November 30, 1941 – May 15, 2020
Thomas Gary Dunham passed away on May 15th of natural causes. He had recently moved into an assisted living center.
Tom lived much of his younger life in Golden, CO, where his family roots run deep. He graduated from Golden High School and attended college at the University of Colorado and in Switzerland. His professional life included working with: Anheuser-Busch at Busch Gardens in Florida; Disney World as an International Merchandise Buyer; Coors Brewing as Director of International Trademark Licensing; and Coldwell Banker as a real estate agent in Colorado.
Tom pushed his limits athletically and accomplished some extraordinary events. In 1984, he competed in, and finished the Ironman Triathlon World Championship in Hawaii, a challenge that included a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and a full marathon – 26.2 miles. Later, he used that bicycling skill to complete several “Ride the Rockies” events in Colorado – a week-long ride over several hundred miles and numerous unforgiving high mountain passes.
Many of Tom’s friends had the pleasure of listening to Tom play a mean ragtime piano. He loved the piano, and played for pleasure much of his life. In addition to delighting family members with this gift of music, he played at Rosie O’Grady’s in Orlando and even got to play for Jackie Gleason at one time.
Tom’s love of music wasn’t limited to solo piano playing; in 1956 he played in a band called the Futile Five that made regular appearances at the Gilded Garter in Central City, Heritage Square in Golden and Pete Smythe’s East Tincup. They made guest appearances on Pete’s TV show.
Tom’s adventurous side led him to "hopping a freighter" in New Orleans and working his way to Europe as one of the ship's crew. Once he got there, he managed to stay for months on just $600. He would stop at the pubs and play the piano for meals and a place to stay. In 1963, Tom and a friend went on an eleven-day student tour of the Soviet Union, traveling by train from Paris to Moscow/Leningrad and back.
Tom’s nieces and nephew remember him as a jokester who loved Halloween and chasing them around in an ape suit. When they ate spaghetti, he would cut off the loose ends hanging out of their mouths with scissors. He and a nephew built an Estes Saturn V model rocket that stood almost 4' tall and used 3 engines. Unfortunately it failed miserably upon launch, but it was a credit to Tom’s teaching spirit. Family members also remember him as a hero who saved his niece’s life by pulling her from an ocean undertow.
Tom is survived by his daughter Mary, two sisters, two grandchildren, two nieces and two nephews. He was preceded in death by his daughter Joanna.
On a more serious note, Tom is remembered by friends as a classy gentleman, polished and worldly. Once, when asked by his sister what he would want on his headstone, he replied, “I made a difference.” Rest in peace, Tom. You did.
Services are not scheduled due to COVID restrictions. If services are scheduled in the future, the family will provide information on this page. We encourage you to share your stories and messages in the guest book.
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Thomas Gary Dunham
May 27, 2020
My sincere condolences to Tom's family and friends. I have many fond memories of Tom from 1953 on. In elementary school, Tom and I were close friends. opening a shoe shine stand together at Slick's Barber Shop which was located in the current Woody's Pizza in Golden. Tom and I at age 13, distinguished ourselves by going to the bar next to the barber shop and getting a couple of shots of Old Granddad for "Doc" who was a barber at Slicks, Doc had very few customers after 3:00 in the afternoon. In later years Tom took the lead in organizing the GHS Lunch Bunch in 1993, which I assisted him with periodically, the Lunch Bunch still meets on the first Thursday of each month. I and we will miss Tom, he did "Make a Difference".
Class of 1960 GHS