Thomas C. Wallace

April 28, 1928October 14, 2010

Tom passed away peacefully Thursday, October 14, 2010, in Spokane, at the age of 82, after a courageous battle with cancer. Thomas Coverdale Wallace, named after his mother’s dearest brother, was born April 28, 1928, in Spokane, to Clifford and Emma Wallace. As a boy he attended the old Edison Grade School in the “East End.” He went on to Libby Jr. High, a block from the family home, where he would play “To the Colors” on his trumpet each morning as the flag was being raised. He was also Student Body President. When at Rogers High School, from 1943 to 1946, he was active in football, basketball and track – their relay team being State Champions two years in a row. Of all his schooling he said, “my high school years were the most fun.” His favorite teacher was Miss Marian G. LeFevre, who taught Latin and French. He was again Student Body President in high school, a member of the National Honor Society and also was a Life Rank Boy Scout. To his classmates, he was “Dale,” a fragment of his interesting, centuries-old, English family name. To family, he was always “Bud.” Tom had some intriguing and varied jobs. When in junior high, he worked for Dr. Stewart’s Veterinary Clinic on Sprague and Lacey. As a 15 year old, in the summer of 1943, he worked in the old Bandbox Theatre downtown, catching the midnight bus home after a steamy bowl of Wor Mein noodles at The Mandarin Café. In the summer of 1948, he worked for The Ambulance Company, which was in the building The Olive Garden now occupies. He enjoyed working at Sears in the Hardware Dept., both part and full time, from 1948 to 1951. The Downtown Library stands there today. Interestingly, in 1952, he worked at the Washington Water Power’s very ancient electrical turbine station beneath the Monroe St. Bridge as “Junior Operator.” With aspirations of becoming a medical doctor, Tom attended WSU, then came back to Spokane and went to Gonzaga, then Whitworth and finally decided on a career in Education – getting his degree from Eastern Washington State College in 1951. Tom acquired his MA – “In the Teaching of Physical Science” from WSU in 1969. Tom did his student teaching at Madison Elementary School and then substituted at Jefferson. He began teaching 4th grade and Physical Education at Sheridan Grade School in 1951-52 but was called to active Navy duty during the Korean conflict. He was a “Crypto Security Officer” on the Western Pacific Amphibious Force Flagship, “U.S.S. Eldorado,” her homeport being San Diego, CA. Tom had joined the Naval Reserve in 1947 and retired in 1975 as Captain. Towards the end of his military career, Tom was an Information Officer for the Naval Academy. He was Commander of the Spokane Naval Reserve Unit from 1969 to 1971. Upon returning from active duty in 1956, Tom began teaching at Libby Jr. High School – primarily General Science. He coached football as well. At a ceremony in March, 1963, he was presented a “Life Membership Award” by the Libby PTA. Even Tom’s grandmother, Rose Wallace, attended. With the opening of the new Ferris High School in the fall of 1963, Tom was asked to be a member of its first faculty. Although beginning at Ferris in Physical Science, he taught Physics the majority of his career and was Science Dept. Head from 1975 until he retired in 1985. Moreover, he was a judge for District 81 Science Fairs for many years. He received Spokane Public Schools “Distinguished Teacher Award” in 1984. Tom first noticed Jeanne C. Helbig in the fall of 1947 while he was waiting for a bus on the corner of Riverside and Wall – referring to her as, “the prettiest gal I’d ever seen.” Fate seemed to smile on them and they met unexpectedly at a New Year’s party a short time later. From then on he says, “I hardly let her out of my sight.” Tom and Jeanne were married September 18th, 1949. Jeanne passed away just 4 months short of their Golden Wedding Anniversary. Tom was Past President and 5-year Secretary of the SE Lion’s Club, his specific interest being the “Boys and Girls Committee.” He was “Lion of the Year” in 1994. Tom was an 80-year member of Centenary Methodist Church where he was a Jr. High Sunday School teacher as well as long time trustee and groundskeeper. He currently was a member of Moran United Methodist Church. Tom enjoyed hunting, fishing, camping, bowling, golfing, photography, vintage cameras, target shooting, guns and antique railroad pocket watches. Mr. Wallace was preceded in death by his loving wife Jeanne in 1999 and his brother Harvey in 1994. He is survived by his son, Michael D. Wallace, his seeming second son Alfred R. Haas, his daughter Jennifer J. Wallace-Gilstrap, his son-in-law, D. Wayne Gilstrap, his grandson Jacob Thomas Gilstrap, his very special friend and companion Carole L. Schultz and his canine pal Paige. A Memorial Service for Tom will be on Wednesday, October 20, 2010 at 3:00 Ball & Dodd Funeral Home – 5100 West Wellesley Ave., Rev. Barbara Caviezel and Rev. Brenda Tudor officiating. Visitation will be on Monday, October 18, 2010 from 3:00 8:00 P.M. Private Interment at Greenwood Memorial Terrace. Memorial contributions may be made to Moran United Methodist Church, the South East Lion’s Club, or Hospice of Spokane. Mike and Jennifer want to sincerely thank Medical Oncology Associates, P.S., Hospice of Spokane, and Moran Vista for their support and care in this Transition. WA.


  • Private Interment Tuesday, October 19, 2010
  • Memorial Service Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Thomas C. Wallace

have a memory or condolence to add?


July 13, 2011

as my son struggled through a dry and dull physics class this year I often remarked fondly on what a great physics teacher I had in 1981 at Ferris. More remarkable as I have nothing to do with sciences now, yet he made such a positive impact on me years ago as well as countless others.

Meagen Erickson(Potter)

October 27, 2010

The world will miss a wonderful man! He touched many with his dedication and knowledge. You will be in our thoughts and prayers!

Don and Linda Yates

October 25, 2010

May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived.

October 21, 2010

I am so sorry for you loss. Please know that my thoughts are with you.
Julie Jorgensen Griffin, Pocatello, ID

Steve Niksich

October 20, 2010

Thanks to Mr. Wallace for helping start up Ferris High School and inspire countless number of Ferris students to explore the greatness of science, engineering and medicine.

Kathy Gilstrap

October 20, 2010

I am sorry for your loss. Remember that he is always with you in your memories.
You are his daughter and he is proud of you and your family.

We love you
Kathy and Owen Gilstrap

October 18, 2010

To Michael and Jennifer,
Our thoughts are with you two as well as Alfred, Wayne and Jake.
Doug & Pierre, Montreal,QC

October 18, 2010

The Ladies and Gentlemen of the Washington State Veterans Cemetery extend our deepest sympathies to the family of Thomas Wallace for your loss, to honor his service to our country and our patriotic hero.

Linda Anne House, Founding Member
Ladies and Gentlemen, WSVC

Corinne Schmelzer

October 17, 2010

Tom was like a father to me. He was a great listener,supportive and loving through the good and bad of the 30 years that I have known him. I already miss him greatly. He was a man of God who lived out his faith in actions and love. Now he can be with dear Jeanne and the Lord. Love to you all and prayers for comfort.

October 16, 2010

So sorry for your loss. I hope you are able to find some comfort through your memories of what sounds like a wonderful person. I'm sorry I didn't know him personally.
Love, Becky Reagan(KMC)