Devoted Surfer Had Big-Hearted Personality

By Lee, Cataluna | Honolulu Star - Advertiser, November 26, 2017 | Go to article overview

Devoted Surfer Had Big-Hearted Personality


Lee, Cataluna, Honolulu Star - Advertiser


COURTESY TOM FAMILY “I know where he is. He’s waiting in the arena to cheer other people into heaven, and he’s saving a spot for me on the bench next to him,” said Jeannie Tom, wife of Leonard Tom (pictured), a surfer who died after an accident in waters off Makaha.

A surfer who was in the lineup that day at Makaha told Jeannie Tom that it was the first wave of the first set of the first big swell of the winter season. Her husband, Leo, was riding the wave but slipped off his board.

The center of Leo’s surfboard rail knocked him unconscious, broke his neck and left him paralyzed. An off-duty lifeguard who was at the beach brought Leo to shore and started CPR before the ambulance came. He was transferred to Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center, and then The Queen’s Medical Center West, where he died Oct. 29.

Leonard Jung Jun Tom, 64, a devoted church leader, lifelong surfer and friend to all, always said that’s how he wanted to die — in the waves, doing the thing he loved. This thought is a comfort to his wife, who made the decision early in their marriage to support his devotion to surfing.

“He even went surfing on our honeymoon,” she said. She is now wearing his wedding ring on a necklace. The ring is full of sand.

LEONARD TOM

Services will be held at Nuuanu Memorial Park & Mortuary:

>> Where: East Chapel

>> When: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday

>> Note: A paddle-out is planned at Sunset Beach (Leo’s favorite surf spot) at 2 p.m. Dec. 3. A backup date of Dec. 7 is planned since that day does not fall within any of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing windows.

Tom was born in Honolulu on July 4, 1953. His father, Kam Hin Tom, and mother, Johanna Weber, met in Germany during World War II. He grew up in Foster Village, graduated from Radford High School in 1971, and got a degree in IT from Kapiolani Community College. He had many different careers over the years, but most recently was working as a property manager for condominium complexes.

Jeannie and Leo met through church. He was with the Oahu Church of Christ and she was a member of the Church of Christ in Los Angeles.

In 1997, she came with her parents on a vacation to Hawaii. A friend at her church who used to live in Hawaii arranged for Leo to pick up the family at their Waikiki hotel and take them to church services. …

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