Thomas Henry Gainer, Jr., 81, of Pisgah Forest, went to GLORY on Wednesday, January 23, 2019. He was welcomed into the arms of our Lord and Savior surrounded by his parents, Thomas Henry Gainer, Sr. and Margaret Harrison Gainer.
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Tom was born on September 26, 1937 in Panama City, Florida. He graduated from Bay High School in 1955 and in the Fall entered the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. He graduated from the Academy in 1959 as an Officer in the United States Navy. As a Surface Warfare Officer for 22 years aboard various naval ships, Tom served all over the world. He was involved in the Cuban Missile Crisis, Spacecraft Recoveries in the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs, and three tours in the Gulf of Tonkin, Vietnam. Lieutenant Commander Gainer received numerous commendation and achievement medals during his service, as well as a Master’s Degree in Oceanography and Meteorology from the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, California. His last assignment with the US Navy took him to the Naval Oceans Systems Center in San Diego, California where he retired in 1981.
After retirement from the Navy, Tom attended Princeton Theological Seminary, graduating in 1984 with a Master of Divinity degree. From 1984-1996, he served as Pastor to Presbyterian Churches in Georgia and Florida. After retirement from the Ministry, he taught Math and Oceanography in Florida before he and Katherine relocated to Pisgah Forest.
After settling in the mountains near Katherine’s Mother, he taught Math at Rosman High School, AB Tech, and Blue Ridge Community College. Health issues took him out of teaching full time in 2016, but he continued to tutor students when he could because he loved helping students, particularly those who said “I can’t do math!”.
He enjoyed hiking and exploring the mountains and waterfalls with Katherine and their dogs. Tom loved bringing joy to others, particularly through his clowning and making balloon animals for the young and old. His big rainbow wig was a common sight at the Oaks and other nursing facilities in both Transylvania and Henderson Counties.
He loved music, playing the baritone, singing and was a part of various church, community, and county choirs with his wife, Katherine. While he could sing any part, he loved to sing bass while sitting behind Katherine so they could hold hands. He was also a Master Mason and a frequent Worthy Patron in the Brevard chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star.
He is survived by the love of his life, his wife of 22 years, Katherine Paxton Gainer; one son, Paul and wife Kathy; two daughters, Ellen Rainforth and Loretta Miller. He took great pride in his grandchildren: Griffin, Troy and wife Keri, Lane, and Ryleigh. He is also survived by his sister Blanche and husband Dewey Parsons.
The family will receive friends on Friday, January 25, 2019 at Moody- Connolly Funeral Home from 5pm-7pm. A graveside memorial will be held Saturday, January 26 at Blue Ridge Gardens of Memory at 11:00am followed by a Celebration of Life at Etowah Presbyterian Church at 2pm. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Shriner’s Hospital in Greenville, SC or the Etowah Elementary School Families in Need program.
The family would like to express their sincere gratitude to Four Seasons Hospice, Mary Alice, CNA from Compassionate Home Care and Dr. George Ruffin Benton for their excellent care and compassion during Tom’s extended illness.
Online condolences may be left at www.moodyconnollyfuneralhome.com
Moody-Connolly Funeral Home and Crematory, 181 S. Caldwell Street, Brevard, NC 28712.