WILMINGTON — Thomas Arthur “Tom” Getz, 77, passed away peacefully Friday, Dec. 11, 2020, surrounded by his loving family after a bout with cancer. Thomas was born May 15, 1943, just outside of Philadelphia to the late Fredrick Getz and Elizabeth Brown Henson.
Tom had been a resident of Wilmington for 28 years. He graduated from Radner High School in 1962, and, like his father, attended Penn State University and was a member of Phi Kappa Sigma Fraternity. He graduated in 1966 with a degree in home economics and hotel administration. Like many of his classmates after college, Tom enlisted in the U.S. Army and went to basic training at Fort Jackson. Following basic training, he deployed to Vietnam in June 1968. Tom worked in Army intelligence as a trained Laotian linguist attached to a small South Vietnamese Army unit.
Away from the front lines and relatively safe in areas carefully controlled by South Vietnamese and U.S. Army forces, Tom had family visit him while at war. His mother and stepfather visited him in Saigon. With his parents in town, Tom spoke of being able to find time away from his Army intelligence duties to enjoy a memorable week exploring the vibrant city despite the war raging nearby. He retired from the U.S. Army in 1969 with the rank of staff sargent.
After the Army, Tom was hired by Sheraton Corporation as a management trainee in Boston and then transferred to Philadelphia. One soggy, cold winter in Philadelphia, he was offered the resident manager position of the Maui Sheraton Hotel. This was an opportunity he willingly accepted! Tom later transferred to Washington, D.C., as the managing director of the Sheraton Park Hotel.
In 1975, he met a wonderful girl, Paula Eddens (Hart), on a date set up by his brother. Smitten by this Southern beauty, he married her soon after and settled in Annapolis, Maryland, as the general manager of the Annapolis Hilton. In 1978, his son, M. Curt Getz, was born, followed by his daughter, Mary Kathryn Getz, in 1980. Each year, Tom played a major role in the United States Power and Sailboat shows. He was active in the Rotary International and annually helped organize the legendary Annapolis Crab Feast. Tom was the president of the Annapolis Rotary Club in 1986-1987.
While living in Annapolis, Tom had some unique honors during the 1984 Summer Olympics. Preliminary events were held at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and as the manager of the host hotel, Tom was nominated as the “mayor” of the Olympic Village. He was also given the elite honor of running the Olympic torch for a portion of the 9,320-mile relay that crossed the country to the Los Angeles Games.
Tom’s family moved to Wilmington in 1993. Choosing to leave hotel administration, Tom started his own health insurance brokerage firm, The Health Insurance Company of Wilmington. Tom retired from the health insurance business in 2009, just before the creation of the Affordable Healthcare Act. Throughout his lifetime, Tom was an avid boater, passionate about antique cars and motorcycles and loved social gatherings. In retirement, he traveled thousands of miles across the United States on motorcycles, old cars and boats.
Tom also enjoyed traveling with his brother, Donald David Getz. He had an unwavering passion for history and foreign cultures, and together, they explored Egypt, Peru, the Panama Canal, Europe, Turkey and Canada.
He was preceded in death by his daughter, Mary Kathryn Getz.
Tom is survived by his brother, Donald David Getz (Alison Block-Getz); son, Marshall Curtis Getz (Lisa); grandson, Jackson Cole Martin, and unborn grandson, Oliver Thomas Getz; two nephews, David Getz (Emily) and Travis Getz (Christy); niece, Kira Wolfe (Jon); many great-nieces and great-nephews; and a host of friends he loved. His family would also like to acknowledge his former wives, Jody and Kimberly, with whom he maintained friendships and adoration for.
His last words to his beloved son were, “I love you and everybody.”
Since we cannot gather for a memorial at this time, a celebration of Thomas’s life will be held at a later date. In the meantime, and in lieu of flowers, donations in Tom’s memory may be made to Lower Cape Fear LifeCare, 1414 Physicians Drive, Wilmington NC 28401.
Share online condolences with the family at Coble Funeral and Cremation Service at Greenlawn Memorial Park.