World War II intensified as Tom Tomasi left Santa Rosa High School in 1942. Three years later, as a newly minted P-38 fighter pilot, he was treated by the U.S. Army Air Corps to a free trip to paradise.
Tomasi, who later became one of Santa Rosa’s most prominent architects, recalled flying into Oahu one night in mid-1945, spending a week at Hickham Field, still riddled from the Japanese attack of 1941, and then flying out, also at night.
“So here I had been to Hawaii,” he wrote after the war, “and I had absolutely no idea of what it looked like.”
Tomasi was destined for much more satisfying travel, a good deal of it in the company of his wife of 66 years, Anita, and their kids. Once the clan set out from Sonoma County in a station wagon and drove clear to Costa Rica.
Tomasi, a nearly lifelong resident of Santa Rosa and founder of what is now TLCD Architecture, died Sept. 16 at the age of 92.
Throughout his career of more than 30 years, he was key to the design, engineering and construction of many school, commercial and residential buildings. Among them are Forsyth Hall, home to the music department at Santa Rosa Junior College; Olivet Elementary School and the medical building at 1111 Sonoma Ave. in Santa Rosa.
Deeply involved in the community, Tomasi served for 14 years on the Santa Rosa Civic Arts Commission and for four years on the governing board of the Rincon Valley Union School District.
He was also active on the committee tasked with finding locations for both the existing Santa Rosa City Hall and central branch of the Sonoma County Library.
Said his son, Don Tomasi, a senior partner of TLCD Architecture, “He was the only person to speak out against the undergrounding of Santa Rosa Creek” and the construction of City Hall atop it.
Thomas Maurice Tomasi was born in Vallejo on Jan. 27, 1924. He was 3 when his family moved to Santa Rosa and to Tupper Street.
The U.S. entered World War II shortly after he began his senior year at Santa Rosa High School.
He told Press Democrat columnist and history author Gaye LeBaron in 1991 that his mother, a fervent pacifist, insisted that he leave school and join an apprenticeship program so that he might not be drafted.
For a time he installed tubing in the engine rooms of submarines. Then he applied to and was accepted into the Army Air Corps cadet program.
Tomasi reported for duty early in 1943 and a short while later began flight training, in time working his way up to the twin-tailed Lockheed P-38 Lightning.
Amid his training he met his first wife, Yvonne Bishop, in Chico. They had a son, David.
As a first lieutenant, Tomasi asked to be sent to the European Theater. But before he was assigned, Germany surrendered.
Dispatched instead to the Pacific, he flew just three missions before the war ended following Japan’s announcement of surrender on Aug. 15, 1945.
Well after the war, Tomasi and a brother who’d also served, Ivan Tomasi, came to realize they’d been in a Tokyo hotel lobby at the same time but had no idea the other was there.