Obituary: Thomas J. Moody, III
Thomas J. Moody, III
April 21, 1949 — December 14, 2017
Thomas James Moody III was born on April 21, 1949 to Thomas James Moody Jr. and his wife, Mary Lou Kline Moody. The family eventually included Tom and four sisters, Rebecca, Lynn, Mary, and Laura. The family lived primarily in the greater Denver area where their father was a businessman. Tom and his sisters attended school in the metro area, but the family often went to their cabin in Eldora where Tom developed a real love of the outdoors. He and his sisters also came to visit their Aunt Margaret and Uncle Anton Kline in the Hayden area. Tom was especially fond of staying with his cousin, Dollie and her husband Norman Frentress. They had boys near in age to Tom, lived on a ranch, and he could fish, climb the hills and learn the finer points of boyhood unencumbered by city life. Tom often mentioned that Routt County was his home in his heart.
After Tom finished high school, he entered the Army where he fought in the Vietnam War. Tom was an Airborne Ranger, a distinction of which he was duly proud. His time in the military was full of both ups and downs as he would often laugh and say every time he found himself achieving too much rank he found a way to get himself busted back down. Even with that, he was a decorated soldier earning the Bronze Star, Army Commendation Medal, Combat Infantryman Medal, National Defense Service Medal, two Battle Stars, a Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross, Republic of Vietnam Medal, and was an Expert M16 and Grenade designation. He found civilian life not really to his liking, and a year after his initial discharge he re-enlisted, this time as an instructor teaching other the finer points of mountain fighting and recreation. Tom was adept at kayaking, repelling, climbing, skiing, and survival techniques, skills he used the rest of his life.
After leaving his military career with an honorable discharge in 1977, Tom returned to Routt County. Steamboat was booming and he lived the Steamboat life to the fullest. He spent his work hours as a carpenter and builder, and his off hours he skied, snow-shoed, hunted, fished, and partied. He partied with all the other single people who populated the up and coming ski town. During this time Tom also found himself struggling with the same demons that eventually haunted so many Vets, and he fought them for many years.
He had a brief marriage and stint as a sewing machine salesman and repairman with his own business, but an indoor job never suited his free spirit and he went back to building and working outdoors as much as possible.
Tom landed in Buena Vista, where he developed some firm friendships and was able to stay busy. He also finally found a degree of recovery that had eluded him before. When not working on mountain cabins or acting as a caretaker, he built unique furniture out of the wood and rocks he loved so well. He had a degree of creativity and skill that was appreciated by those who knew and loved him. His creations were often given as gifts. He did this in spite of his failing eyesight, and he continued working until a few weeks before his passing. One of the things that stood out about Tom was his love and affinity for kids, especially boys. He loved inspiring them to build forts and play with the materials the woods provided. He retained the twinkle in his eye and his sense of fun his entire life. During his time in Buena Vista he was involved with the museum there and worked with disabled Vets. He counseled and took part in trips up and down the rivers in kayaks, fishing trips, hiking and other types of outdoor therapy. Tom never enjoyed or responded to normal authority, always marching to his own beat. He was capable of giving and sharing great love and loyalty and those qualities endeared him to many.
Tom was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer and decided he wanted to spend his last days back in Routt County with the people and places that had meant so much to him in his life. He passed peacefully at the Doak Walker Center on December 14, 2017. He was preceded in death by his parents, Tom Sr. and Mary Lou, and all his sisters, Rebecca, Lynn, Mary, and Laura. Tom is survived by his many nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.
A memorial service will be held 10:00 a.m., June 9, 2018 at the Steamboat Springs Cemetery. Memorial Donations may be made to the Chance Phelps Foundation PO Box 1715 Dubois, WY 82513.
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