Published in the May 19, 2017 edition
MELROSE — Captain Thomas S. Balcom, 85, a longtime resident of Melrose, passed away peacefully at Genesis Wakefield Center on Saturday, May 13.
Tom was born in Boston on November 26, 1931, son of the late Thomas M. Balcom and Susan T. (Perry) Balcom Haskell. He was raised in East Boston where he graduated from East Boston High School. He was married in 1954 to Barbara A. Morse and settled in Melrose to raise two children.
Tom dedicated himself to his working career as a Merchant Marine USCG Licensed Pilot for Boston Fuel Transportation for over 30 years.
Tom took his work seriously, and performed the job of a pilot with great diligence and care. He received many accolades and several awards for his expertise in safely navigating large tankers into the small Boston harbors. He was chosen to pilot the first LNG tanker into Boston Harbor, and was honored to be selected for the annual turnabout of the USS Constitution.
After over 30 years of performing the job with great attention, and responding to calls at all hours, Capt. Tom retired and was afforded more time with family and friends.
Tom was a member of the Propeller Club, and the SIU (Seafarers International Union) for many years. In his free time, he enjoyed making model ships, and assembled a working model train collection on his front porch for the kids.
Although very diligent in his profession, Tom knew how to have fun and was known to friends as the “Captain Fun.” He loved his Crown Royal and Coke, and always had a pack of cigarettes to offer. He enjoyed spontaneous trips to Vermont with his wife and children, sometimes embarking in the middle of the night.
Tom’s first love was the ocean, and in particular the natural landscape and coastline of his family land in Nova Scotia. As a young boy, every summer he took the train to spend the summer with his cousins, aunts, and uncles at the family homestead in Sheet Harbour.
Knowing he loved the sea, when Tom was 12 years old, he petitioned President Roosevelt with a letter asking permission to wear the uniform of the U.S. Navy. He was denied but his love for the ocean, never wavered throughout his life. He purchased 7 acres of unspoiled land on a peninsula in Pope’s Harbour where he and wife Barbara spent many May through Octobers in retirement. Tom was happiest at “the Point” looking out over the 100 islands, monitoring the boats, seals, deer, and weather, all at once.
Capt. Thomas S. Balcom was the beloved husband of Barbara A. (Morse) Balcom with whom he shared 63 years of marriage. He was the devoted father of Kathleen “Kathy” T. Kaplan and her husband Larry of Wilmington, and Thomas S. Balcom Jr. of Springfield. He was the proud grandfather of Leia Kaplan and her fiancé Peter Tummino of Lowell.
Relatives and friends gathered in honor and remembrance of Tom during visiting hours at the Robinson Funeral Home, 809 Main St., Melrose on Tuesday, May 16, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., and again on Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. before leaving in procession to Most Blessed Sacrament Church, 1155 Main St., Wakefield for his funeral mass celebrated at 10 a.m.
Interment in St. Martin’s Cemetery, Nova Scotia.
Gifts in Capt. Tom’s memory may be made to 100 Wild Islands, c/o Nova Scotia Nature Trust, P.O. Box 284, Station Main, Dartmouth, NS B2Y 3Y3, Canada.
For online tribute or to share a memory, visit RobinsonFuneralHome.com