Thomas Harkness

Profile Updated: July 20, 2017
Thomas Harkness
Mailing Address: Pittsville, VA USA
Spouse/Partner: Linda
Children: Jessica, born 3/24/81
Eric, born 3/2/84
Kristin, born 3/19/89; died 2/22/08
Occupation: USAF ('79-'99); SAIC (Policy Analyst, '99-'11); Prince William County Schools (Special Needs Bus Driver, '11-'15); Retired (Leesville Lake, VA, '15-'??)
Military Service: Air Force  
Yes! Attending Reunion
City, State:

Leesville Lake, VA 24139



Following graduation from Wolfson, life was good for me and my family right up until February 22, 2008. No, actually, life was better than good, it was nearly perfect. First, I managed to stretch my carefree college days at FSU out to four and a half years. Oh sure there were some serious hormonal surges and decompressions, but I managed to work my way through them relatively unscathed and undiminished. However, when forced to leave the cocoon with a degree in American Studies (a.k.a. eclectic potpourri of classes) and no immediate career plans, I made the most logical decision I could and moved to the year-round playground and land of 24-hour fun, Lake Tahoe, CA. The plan was to play by day and work as a waiter in Harrah’s showroom by night for the summer, and then get back to grad school or begin a more traditional career by fall. Well summer water sports, tennis, and golf led to fall hiking and backpacking, which led to winter and spring skiing, and then I seemed to lose control of the recurring cycle for nearly four years. There was one short hiatus during that timeframe when I moved back to FL thinking I was ready to move forward, but I got cold feet when someone offered me a real job, and then relapsed. On a positive note, I met my future (and current) wife the second time at Lake Tahoe. I also had the good fortune to host Dave Nichols and his new bride Barb (Bostian) when they surprised me with a call while visiting in the mid 70s.

Linda (my bride to be) and I moved to Atlanta in the fall of 78, she says I asked her to marry me at my 10th high school reunion during the summer of 79, I went off to the AF’s officers training school and was commissioned in Nov 79, and we got married in San Jose, CA on 1 Dec 79. From there I had 5 assignments over a 20-year AF career, 4 as a personnel officer and 1 tour in missile operations (Dover, DE; Great Falls, MT (missile operations); Melbourne Beach, FL; Misawa, Japan; and Manassas, VA (Pentagon). We also raised our three beautiful children during that period. I retired from active duty 1 Sep 99 and have been a government contractor supporting AF Manpower & Personnel as a strategic planner and policy analyst since then. We’ll probably move back to FL someday, but Kristin’s death and the current economic climate have given us cause to pause and reflect on what’s important for us and our other children before making any major life changing decisions.

Thank you to all my classmates and friends who paid their respects at Kristin's funeral in Jax. just over a year ago. I look forward to seeing you and renewing old friendships under better circumstances at the reunion. Again, thank you for the physical support we felt by your presence, as well as the spiritual support we received from your thoughts and prayers.

"Seniors fine in '69"

School Story:

For a kid who moved from Miami to Jax in the middle of the 10th grade, and who for the first nine months literally counted the minutes to his next trip "home" to Miami, Wolfson Senior High School turned out to be a far better place than he could ever have imagined. It took awhile to find my niche, but once I did, it was like night and day. Although I achieved the rank of Eagle Scout while still living in Miami, thanks in great part to my father’s guidance and encouragement, chances are my social life would have revolved around high school gang activities from that point on. Instead, my life at Wolfson revolved around Alpha Hi-Y, Key Club, Young Life, football, track, and the life-long friends I made through each of those activities.

High point: Leading the team on to the field in Miami as co-captain with Bob Hackney for the ’68 high school championship game -- I only wish the game had been played in the Orange Bowl.

Low point: Crying inconsolably while walking of the field after losing the ’68 championship game by one point (7-6) -- I’ve never been a very good loser.

The Good and the Bad at Wolfson High: Lasting memories include Mr. Geilen’s consistent good nature and upbeat attitude, which was counter-balanced by Mrs. Richardson’s old school teaching methods and odd habit of sticking out her tongue; cramming scores of kids into someone’s beautiful home to sing joyful songs and listen to Mel Olsen spread the Good News at Tuesday night Young Life meetings; getting loose (and sometimes lucky) at the Southside drive-in (how many speakers do you think they had to replace?); our gang’s last dinner hosted by Mrs. Hackney, which was followed by getting busted that rainy night with cases of beer in the trunk of our car in the parking garage of the Gulf Life Tower (thankfully, the officer let us go after listening to Hackney plead for his football scholarship and then making us dump all the beer in the dumpster); Thursday morning Young Life Campaigner meetings, followed by getting whacked by Mr. Meckley for being late to school; taking Coach Crook’s utility car (’57 Ford?) for a joy ride around the practice fields with Rouzie and Okun on a weekend afternoon, only to be caught red-handed by Monty himself; riding scared with the usual suspects (Calhoun, Copeland, Hackney?) with Bayer at the wheel during a furious car chase after we splashed a lemon off the windshield of an unsuspecting car going the opposite direction (we never thought he’d turn around to chase us, let alone catch us—actually, Tommy’s Dad handled it rather well—at least in front of us); late night cheeseburgers and fries at the Derby House (how did management ever put up with us? – I guess they didn’t on at least one occasion according to Chris Parker’s profile—sorry I missed that one); weekend afternoons on the beach at Ponte Vedra (thanks to our well-to-do or well-connected friends), followed by a root-beer float at the A&W on the way home; and finally the second and third loves of my life (I left my first love in Miami), and all the happiness, laughter, and tears that we blissfully and innocently shared.

Life was good, and it will be again, someday.

Thomas' Latest Interactions

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Jan 09, 2018 at 9:49 AM

Happy Birthday, Jeff . . . guess it can get much better than to celebrate a birthday with another Crimson Tide national championship!!! That was quite a game and bodes well for the Tide's future with all those freshman running around the field.
By the way, I had to rewind while watching ESPN's Game Day a few weeks ago to take a closer look at this picture of Gene Stalling's staff . . . and yep, there sits my friend right in the middle of everyone. That must have been some kind of experience. Take care now.

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Jan 08, 2018 at 3:47 PM
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Jan 09, 2016 at 10:36 AM
Jan 08, 2016 at 10:33 AM

Happy Birthday, Chris! Well, you're leading the way again into the Medicare phase of our lives. Hard to believe, but here we are, and here we go . . .
Just caught up with you in your "Next Chapter" and I'm so happy for you and the direction your life has taken. I know you are a blessing to the kids you're working with and supporting!
I officially retired this past year after 20 years in the AF, 11 years as a DoD contractor, and 4 years of driving a Special Needs school bus for Prince William County, VA. Every one of those years was well spent, but as you can imagine, the last four added a new dimension to my life.
We've moved (and are still moving) into a log home we are completing in what's known geographically as Southside, VA (between Lynchburg and Danville). We're out "in the sticks" as Linda likes to refer to it, but I'm loving it so far, and will like it even more once the house is completely finished (see attached picture).
Haven't had time to get involved with volunteer activities yet, but we have registered with a very small and very vibrant faith community at Saint Victoria Catholic Church. My hope and prayer for you is that you might find your way back to the rich traditions and sacraments offered by the Catholic Church at some point in your spiritual quest (I can still remember seeing you at Mass the morning of one of our big games, and feeling good about that connection we had).
Linda and I also became grandparents for the first time when our son, Eric, and his wife, Lauren, welcomed Camden Eric to this world on 11/3/15 (my Dad's birthday). Camden was just released from the NICU at CHOP (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia) yesterday after spending over two months there recovering from two surgeries to remove cysts from his right lung, a rare condition called CCAMS. After spending a week with them in Philly for the delivery and first surgery, Thanksgiving and second surgery, and then Christmas, we are oh so happy they are finally home in Arlington, VA. Our oldest daughter, Jessica, is also living in Arlington and is a speech pathologist at the Children's Hospital of Northern VA. She's still unmarried and unattached, which is worrisome to Linda, but like you, I think if it's meant to be, it will happen in good time.
Well, take care my friend, and again, best wishes for a Happy Birthday and a fulfilling year.

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Oct 10, 2015 at 8:49 AM
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Oct 10, 2015 at 8:23 AM
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Jun 30, 2015 at 3:29 PM
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Aug 29, 2015 at 11:35 AM

Posted on: Sep 05, 2014 at 12:09 PM

Happy Birthday, Charlie!!! It was great seeing you and Maureen last week. Maybe our paths will cross at one of FSU's football games this year. I'll let you know if we'll be going to one. Take care and best wishes for many happy returns!

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Posted: Jan 21, 2014 at 12:36 PM
Celebrating our son's wedding at the rehearsal dinner with my best friend, Tommy, and his wife, Olga (10/11/13). Also had the pleasure of hearing Tommy sing and play his guitar that evening.
Posted: Dec 17, 2013 at 12:07 AM
Posted: Dec 17, 2013 at 12:07 AM
Tom, Jessica, Linda, and Eric at bon voyage party as we depart Ft Lauderdale on our 2008 holiday escape cruise.