Thomas Anthony Longo, Jr., age 68, of Lone Oak, TX, passed away on Wednesday, February 1, 2023 at his home. Mr. Longo was born on May 20, 1954 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Thomas Anthony Longo, Sr. and Laverne (Hinkofer) Longo.
Tom led a full and wonderful life, beginning with his early years in Pittsburgh, where he very much enjoyed growing up with his 3 older sisters, Nancy, Sue & Rosemary. He, of course, was the epitome of the "baby brother," his sisters spoiling him and doting on him regularly, to which, of course, he took full advantage of whenever he could, even ‘til his final days. As the only son in the family, he also held a very special place in his parents’ hearts and firmly established himself as the apple of his grandma's eye. She adored him beyond measure and protected him at all costs, even if it meant to the detriment of his doting sisters.
It was during Tom’s school-age years in Peters Township that he began to embrace responsibility, regularly helping out his Dad at the potato factory and delivering frozen foods with him whenever he could. It’s at the potato factory where he also met his 4th “sister,” Judy, a cherished lifelong friend of the entire family, to this day. During this time, he also developed many close friendships that he has forever held dear. He and his "partners in crime" still got together regularly to reminisce about all the many activities they took part in and the pranks they played along the way. Whether it be skipping Sunday School together, under the guise of possibly passing an examination for the priesthood (the priesthood notion much to his mother’s delight); hitting the Round Hotel or the bowling alley; playing their drum sets in the high school band; or their glory days on the high school basketball court, where Tom continued to display his relish for responsibility, as well as began to show his leadership skills by playing point guard for his team every year; these are the fond memories they all love and cherish.
Following high school, Tom joined the US Navy as a Navy Airman. While attending boot camp in Orlando, his leadership skills and exceptional character traits did not go unnoticed. He was subsequently chosen as the Honorman for his company, Company 184, a distinguished accolade, and was specially recognized as such at his graduation ceremony in September of 1972, with his parents proudly in attendance.
After boot camp, Tom attended Technical Training in Memphis where he became fully versed in all aspects of Naval Avionics Electronics and Radar Systems, with further, specialized emphasis placed on the E-2B Hawkeye, an Airborne Early Warning platform. Upon completion of his training, Tom headed out to San Diego as a member of the VAW-112 Golden Hawks team, an Airborne Early Warning Squadron, where he was assigned to the USS Ranger (CV/CVA-61), a Forrestal-class aircraft carrier. Ironically, when Tom was just a young boy, his sisters bought him a model to build of the very same ship, the USS Ranger, a memory he’s treasured all these years.
As a crew member of the VAW-112, Tom was continually granted greater and greater levels of responsibility. He was immediately assigned as the E-2B Organizational Technician, where he was responsible for hangar, line, and duty driver watches. As he continued to emerge as a leader, he was quickly promoted to the rank of Avionics Technician Petty Officer Class 3 (AT3), a non-commissioned officer’s rank. Tom continued in his role as the E-2B Organizational Technician throughout his enlistment and picked up several additional roles, as well, including the W/C 210 Assistant Test Equipment Petty Officer (PO), the W/C 210 Safety PO, the Assistant Squad Duty Officer, and the Division Safety PO. His additional responsibilities included flight and hangar deck integrity watches and shore patrol; squadron line watches; systems operational tests, component replacement, and the maintenance and troubleshooting of the E-2B weapons systems. Tom and his team received two Letters of Commendation from the CO for flight hours achieved without incident (1000+, 2000+). The most common traits sited by his ranking officers throughout his military career were his dedication, his professionalism, and his leadership abilities. They noted that his #1 personal goal, above all else, was to achieve aircraft availability at all times and they also noted that they were proud to have him as a part of the VAW-112. Tom received the National Defense Service Medal as well as the Good Conduct Medal and participated in 2 tours of duty in Vietnam aboard the USS Ranger before being honorably discharged in July of 1976.
After his discharge, Tom made his way to Denver, CO, where he briefly held jobs in the mining industry before migrating back to his true calling, electronics. He furthered his knowledge by completing courses in Industrial Electronics and securing a job at Storage Technology in Louisville, CO, which was subsequently acquired by Sun Microsystems and is now under the helm of the Oracle Corporation. It was during his time in Denver that his daughter, Shannon, was born.
In 1980, Tom made the move of his life when he was hired by E-Systems, Inc., in Garland, TX, where he was able to fully thrive at the company and make the most of his keen electronics knowledge, his innate trouble shooting skills, and the vast experience he garnered in the military. During his 30+ years with the company, Tom was a highly valued member of the team, performing throughout the majority of his years as an Electronics Technician with ever-increasing levels of “rank” and responsibility on a number of highly sensitive, highly secure governmental and DOD programs. He frequently went on offsite temporary duty (TDY) assignments for the company, and was often sought out, both here and abroad, for his expertise.
It was during his early years in Garland that Tom made many lifelong friends and fully enjoyed both the camaraderie and the wealth of experiences he found there. He participated in many extracurricular activities, including coaching and playing in the E-Systems softball league; playing in the community basketball league; acting as an occasional member of the sound crew, courtside, for the Dallas Mavericks games, which, of course, included getting together with the rest of the crew, the press, and even some of the players and coaches, themselves, for post-game late night outings at Louie’s; and even ended up becoming a Mavs season ticket holder, himself. He was full of life and full of joy and always had a cheerful, radiant smile on his face that lit up the room. It was during this time that his daughter, Jessica, was born.
As Tom transitioned into his “middle years” with the company, he continued his upward progression, professionally, and was still being sought out, both at home and abroad, for his unique skills. It was during one of his extended TDY trips to the DC area that Tom finally found the love of his life, his wife of 25 years, Allyson. Tom and Allyson had met one another several years before, as they both worked on many of the same programs, but they never really got to know each other until that TDY stint in DC. Before you knew it, they were inseparable, love was in the air, and the journey of a lifetime began.
While in DC, Tom showed Allyson an incredibly awesome time and took her on a variety of fun-filled excursions (a surprise helicopter tour of DC followed by a Baltimore Orioles game during the inaugural season of Oriole Park at Camden Yards; jaunts to Atlantic City on the Amtrak train; trips to Charles Town Race Track in WV, where Tom would typically hit it big and then he and Allyson would go to Joe Theisman’s restaurant in Old Town Alexandria for a celebratory feast; several Washington Capitals games, especially if they were playing the Pens; etc.). The list goes on and on. He also protected her and took care of her at all times, whether that meant having the state-of-the-art custom electronics systems she used at work up and running and in full availability mode at all times; or frequently walking over to her apartment, in the rain, no matter the time of day, to be sure her dog, Bandit, got to go outside without Allyson ever having to get wet; and so on -- what an awesome, thoughtful, caring, loving, selfless, and truly remarkable guy... When all was said and done, and their time in DC was coming to an end, it was obvious the two were head over heels in love. When they returned to Garland at the end of December, 1992, Tom proposed.
The next few years encompassed many more awesome and unique adventures for the pair. It was during this time that they found their vacation “happy place,” the island of Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles. Given the fruits of their TDY assignment in DC, they were able to visit Curacao 3-4 times a year for the next few years. And, visit they did. They became experts at everything the island had to offer and truly enjoyed the white sandy beaches and the beautiful, clear, turquoise blue waters that they quickly became accustomed to. Neither one was ever happier than when they were together on the island that captured their hearts.
But their travels didn’t end there. Tom also surprised Allyson with a birthday hot air balloon ride over Sedona, Arizona with side trips to Flagstaff and Meteor Crater thrown in; they visited Niagara Falls and the Anchor Bar, the original Buffalo hot wings restaurant, as well as the Crown Royal factory just across the border; they took several ski trips to Lake Tahoe; and a trip to Tampa, where Allyson first met Tom’s parents, etc. But during the 3 years since they returned from their TDY assignment in DC, they also embarked on another journey. They began looking for their “forever” property and, at the end of 1995, they finally found it – a beautiful 46 acres in rural Hunt County, TX. They were over the moon.
During the next couple years of their life together, they embarked on the planning, designing & building of their dream home. When their house was nearing completion, they decided the time had finally come; it was time to tie the knot. They were married in their new home, still partially under construction at the time, but overlooking their beautiful property, on the 4th of July, 1997, the happiest day of their lives.
And, this is when things started to shift from the Garland area and way of life to the Greenville, TX area and way of life for them both. They were finally able to move into their new home in January of 1998. Since E-Systems had a plant in Greenville, as well as Garland, they both embarked on trying to make the transition to Greenville, as it was much nearer their new home. Since Allyson’s Garland program was wrapping up and she’d gotten a lead on a job in Greenville, she was able to make the move in July of 1998. But Tom’s program was in full swing, and, of course, he wouldn’t shirk that responsibility. No way. But, finally, at the end of May 2000, Tom transferred to Greenville, as well. Just prior to that, at a visit to Allyson’s parents in West Monroe, LA, Tom surprised Allyson with the news. She cried…
For the next 10 years, Tom embraced his career life in Greenville. Initially, as an Electronics Technician for the Electronic Warfare group, he was responsible for performing Acceptance Test Procedures on a variety of special purpose aircraft electronics systems. Of course, he was perfectly suited for that role, given his past, and performed extremely well, as always. When the group disbanded some 5 or 6 years later, Tom found himself on an entirely new type of assignment, that of technical writing. In this role, Tom was responsible for writing the actual documents the military personnel would use to not only run the aircraft equipment during missions, but also to maintain it, an extremely important undertaking, especially given the critical nature of the assignments these aircraft were involved in.
Tom and Allyson also settled into their new home life in the Greenville area during this time and enjoyed it immensely, taking care of the grounds, landscaping the house, decorating & furnishing inside, and just enjoying the beautiful landscape they now called their own. They did buckle down a bit, at this point, so they could pay the house off as soon as possible and build a solid nest egg for the future. They wanted to retire early and enjoy their golden years together, doing whatever they wanted to do, whenever they wanted to do it. Now, mind you, they certainly didn’t scrimp or set aside fun in any way…. They still went on several trips during this time and also had as much fun locally as they possibly could, as well, so, even when these two were “buckling down” a bit, it was still one awesome adventure after another. And they thoroughly enjoyed one another’s company throughout. They were truly cut from the same cloth and just adored and idolized one another every step of the way.
And, so, it went, for the last 10 years of Tom’s career. And, with the plan they’d put together to achieve an early retirement well in hand, Tom was finally able to retire on September 17, 2010, after 30+ years of service with the company. What a joy it was for them both.
During Tom’s retirement years, he really took the bull by the horns with respect to taking care of hearth and home. He loved nothing more than tooling around on his 46 acres, keeping it well maintained and looking good. He took care of the yard and the house, and took on all the household errands since Allyson was still working, and, true to form, if it was ever rainy, or cold, or windy, or, even sunny, Tom would insist on taking Allyson to work so she wouldn’t have to brave the elements on the drive up, or the long walk in, to the plant. Again, always so considerate, always so thoughtful, always so concerned for her well-being, and always just such a wonderful, caring, selfless, incredible man…
Tom also relished his role as primary caregiver to all their pets during this time – Boomer, their black cocker spaniel; Rio and Chino, the outdoor cats who adopted them; and Daddy “Dog,” Pancake, and puppy, Jinx, the outdoor dogs they inherited when no one else wanted them. Tom loved those animals with all his heart and went above and beyond to give them the best care possible for their entire lives.
And, of course, Tom also enjoyed having a good time with his friends during his retirement years. He really loved his baseball, he was a true baseball fan, and he especially loved going to the Rangers games with his best buddies, and celebrating the day with a few ballpark dogs and brews. Yuenglings, of course… Or, hitting the high school football championship games at Cowboys Stadium with them every year. That was something he really looked forward to, as were his not often enough fishing outings with his buddies in West Monroe. And, then there was “the properties”... They loved to hang out with one another and “work” on their properties. And that usually started with the oh-so-necessary “field trips” to Home Depot or Lowe’s, followed by the “much needed” lunch, followed by “oops, too late to get any real work done today, Baby, maybe tomorrow…” Such a special treasure…
Another thing Tom really enjoyed during this time were his jaunts to Pittsburgh. He loved anything Pittsburgh, really – the Steelers, the Penguins, even the Pirates… But mostly he loved his Pittsburgh family and friends, and was always looking forward to the annual family reunions, the ballgames, and the not-frequent-enough for him high school reunions. He really enjoyed every minute he spent in his old home town.
But, Tom mostly just enjoyed hanging around with Allyson during this time, and she with him, even though she still had to work during the week. They hit the casinos and went on local road trips around Dallas doing various things - trying to earn their “dining dollars” for future American Airlines flights, shopping, or just otherwise messing around. They really just thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company doing whatever it was they wanted to do. They even managed to get a few trips to Curacao in during this time. It had been 18 long years since they last visited, so they didn’t really know what to expect when they went again for the first time. But, just as it was in the beginning, they fell in love with the island all over again. Surprisingly, not much had changed since their last visit, a definite part of Curacao’s charm, and they always had a wonderful time together whenever they went.
And, so, Tom’s retirement years were mostly joyful, fun years. But, they also held some lows for the pair, as well. When Allyson’s mom unexpectedly passed away in early 2014, it was a big undertaking for them both, but, as always, Tom took the helm, and helped steer Allyson through it all, and handled so many of the things that needed to happen for her. As always, he was her rock and her strength and her calm in every storm. And, then, again, in 2019, when her dad passed away, Tom was there, as always, to help pick up the pieces and take care of things whenever needed, but, mostly, just to help guide Allyson through it all and provide her the moral support she needed. He was such a calming, comforting force for her. Truly her knight in shining armor at every turn…
Finally, in May of 2020, Allyson got to retire, too, and the two spent the next year primarily in their home, due to the world situation at the time, but, they were like two peas in a pod and happy as clams together during that time. They enjoyed it immensely. They did numerous jigsaw puzzles together and watched inordinate amounts of tv but also did some advance planning for future trips they wanted to take once things settled down. But, they had one more bit of sad news to endure during this time. On the day before Tom’s birthday in 2021, he unexpectedly lost his daughter, Shannon. He was crushed by the loss but suffered mostly in silence, stoically, as was his nature. Allyson tried to provide him with the comfort and support she knew he needed, knowing that he was in pain.
And, then, in August of 2021, the pair finally began to spread their wings again. They began visiting friends again, and going to restaurants and casinos again, they attended the State Fair, and even flew to Pittsburgh for Tom’s 2021 family reunion, and, then, Tom, very joyfully and gleefully, went to his 50th high school reunion in June 2022, where he was able to reconnect with so many of his beloved, longtime friends. He really, really enjoyed that gathering, and definitely talked about it, as well as all of his old pals, in all the days after.
After Tom returned home, he and Allyson spread their wings a bit more and took a couple road trips in short succession - one back to Pittsburgh, for Tom’s 2022 family reunion in August, and one to Florida to visit Allyson’s family and one of Tom’s oldest and dearest friends in November. They even managed to stay at the beach for a few days, something they’d been desperately longing for the past few years.
And, when they returned home, they felt the time was finally right. It was finally time to get started on their “real” retirement life together. Enough waiting for things to settle down in life. Now was the time to start truly enjoying the golden years they strived so hard to get to and prepared for so well in advance. They were ready to have the time of their lives, travel extensively, and just do whatever they wanted to do. With each other… The way it was always meant to be…
But, sadly, fate had other plans, and the golden years they waited so long for in the incredible journey of their lifetime together would have to wait… Until they meet again…
Thomas was of the Catholic faith and is survived by his wife of 25 years, Allyson Spondike of Lone Oak; sisters, Rosemary Mary of Quinton, Virginia, Sue Ann Papesch of Erie, Pennsylvania, Nancy Longo of Pittsburgh, Judy Waclawski of Pittsburgh; daughter, Jessica Longo of Waterford, Michigan; son-in-law, Andy Sprague of Denver, Colorado; grandchildren, Issac, Grace, and Micaiah Sprague of Denver, Nicholas Joseph and Lorenzo “Leo” William of Waterford; many beloved nieces and nephews, including both great- and great-great; many beloved close friends, especially Joe Lamberger, Jay Curran, Rusty Morgan, Brian McGlone, Alvin Rauschhuber, Harold Clapper, and Debbie and Gary Hepler.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Thomas A. Longo, Sr. and Laverne (Hinkofer) Longo; daughter, Shannon (Hoguta) Sprague; and brother-in-law, Paul Mary.