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Thomas Evans Robertson ’50

September 22, 2018, in Larkspur, California,
 peacefully at home.

Known as Tomo to friends and family, Thomas was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and grew up in the village of Glendale, Ohio, where he dreamed of becoming a shortstop for his favorite team, the St. Louis Cardinals. He left high school at 16 and entered St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, but his education was interrupted by World War II.

At age 18, he joined the army and soon sailed to Europe. On the ship, he was asked to edit the ship’s newspaper, the Stars and Stripes. Thomas’s quick wit and intelligence endeared him to his commanders. Upon his arrival in Germany, he was recruited to join the newly formed Counter Intelligence Corps, which led to a long career in the intelligence service and postings in Europe, including Munich and Geneva.

After his military service, he studied philosophy at Reed, Yale University, and UC Berkeley. Carrying a passion for deep reflective thought throughout his life, Thomas often asked the big questions of those around him, challenging them to reflect on their lives and purpose. He frequently quoted Socrates: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

He married Anne Sharrett DeShazo in 1952, and they had four boys, Scott, Christopher, Marc, and Perry. Leaving government service in 1974, Thomas followed his passion and began a second career as a visual artist. He studied sculpture at the College of Marin and joined the O’Hanlon (Sight & Insight) Art Center. Importing huge blocks of marble from Carrara, Italy, Thomas produced many sculptures, some of which adorned his home and garden in Larkspur, California.

In 1981, he committed himself to a year of writing poetry and afterwards began painting works on canvas. Thomas’s large abstract pieces combined acrylic paint, shellac, shredded rubber, mechanical motors, and other unusual materials.

He married his second wife, Ann Cayen O’Shea, in 1987. They shared a passion for art and traveled extensively in Europe and the United States visiting museums, galleries, and private collections. In the 1990s, Thomas interrupted his painting practice to study the piano for seven years, fulfilling a lifelong desire. Recently he had returned to visual art, experimenting with collage as a new medium. Exhibiting frequently, he generously gave his work to friends, family, and acquaintances. He authored two self-published books, Tomo’s Journey and Reach for Creativity.

Thomas is survived by his wife, Cayen; three sons, Christopher, Marc, and Perry; and three stepchildren, Eileen O’Shea, Steve O’Shea, and Katie Axelson.

Appeared in Reed magazine: September 2019

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