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Celebrating the Life of Stephen Tom ’78

<img class="alignright wp-image-1745 size-full lazyload" src="" alt="stephen_tom1-550x367" width="550" height="367" srcset=" 550w, 300w" sizes="(max-width: 550px) 100vw, 550px" />An endowed scholarship fund and a coast live oak have something in common. Both are a vibrant, beautiful way to memorialize a loved one, and carry forward the name of those celebrated in a living, vital way that grows grander with the years.

On the 10th anniversary of their son Stephen’s passing, Katie and Leonard Tom, as well as friends and family of Stephen, wished to celebrate his life by creating a scholarship fund in his honor. According to Katie Tom, “O’Dowd was the perfect place to establish the fund because education is important to our family. Our sons were raised in Oakland, three of them attended O’Dowd, and we believe strongly in the value of an O’Dowd education. We are thrilled that we can leave a legacy for our son at a school that has been such a big part of our family.”

The Stephen Tom ’78 Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund was established in 2015 to provide financial aid to top students that reside in Oakland. Recently, the family also decided to plant a tree on campus as a visual reminder of Stephen’s life and commitment to the outdoors. He enjoyed many activities, including hiking, backpacking, skiing, golf and tennis.

The Tom family and friends gathered on the O’Dowd campus on April 16, 2016, for a ceremonial planting and tree blessing. Lifelong friend and O’Dowd classmate Stephen Woo ’78 spoke at the gathering. “In 2005, Theresa Rush Woo ’81 and I lost a dear friend and a classmate of mine, Stephen Tom ’78, to a tragic accident after climbing down from Mt Whitney. It was just a couple of days after I saw him going to a Cal football game and dinner at our house. We miss him,” Woo said.

Given the school’s motto “Finding God in All Things,” it’s very fitting that there is a plaque and especially a coast live oak planted in Stephen Tom’s honor on the O’Dowd campus, Woo said.

Longtime friend Mark Kramer said that when the pair met 36 years ago as freshmen at UC San Diego he could tell right away that Stephen had been shaped by his family and his high school education. “This is a perfect, fitting tribute to Stephen who loved bringing joy to others,” Kramer said.


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