After a valiant battle with end--stage renal disease and brief battle with pneumonia and COVID-19, Thomas James Brasel passed away on September 13, 2021. He had just turned 91.
He leaves behind his beloved wife of 70 years, Laurie, son, Michael Brasel and his wife, Ruth, son Glen Brasel and his wife, Debbie, son, Wayne Brasel and his wife Mette, daughter Kathy Fey and her husband Marc. He is survived by 13 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren. He is also survived by siblings Vern Brasel and his wife Rose Marie and Donald Brasel and his wife La Vina, and sister-in-law, Gladys Pontes plus many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents Iris G. Laughlin and Verny M. Brasel.
Thomas, known as “Tom”, was born in Sacramento, the second of 3 sons. At age 6, Tom’s father died prematurely, which made for hard times for this young family in 1936. He was a sports fan from his earliest memories, playing baseball and football with the neighborhood kids, and in high school playing quarterback, pole vaulting on the track team and skiing with friends.
Tom was also very industrious. Growing up, he cleaned horse stalls, delivered papers, and in high school mopped floors at Valley Electric, where he was promoted to shipping & receiving. He traded dreams of becoming a college athlete for more practical aspirations, and he entered the U.S. Navy Reserves in 1948.
That same year, Tom met Laurie Peters at a Civil Air Patrol dance. When asked what impressed him about Laurie, he said, “She was pretty, she smiled a lot, and she liked to dance. She was a fun gal.” After pausing, he summed it up with, “She was lovely.” They were married in 1951.
Tom was good with numbers, so with the encouragement of his mother, he studied to become an accountant, first at Sac City College and later at UC Berkeley where he and Laurie became lifelong Cal Bear Football fans.
In 1953, he graduated from Cal, and the young couple moved to Colorado where he began Active Duty doing accounting at the Naval Air Station. Their first son Michael was born in Denver. Later Tom went to OCS and Supply Corp School, and in 1955, they moved to Hawaii where he was a Supply Officer for the U.S. Navy Squadron VW-1. It was in Hawaii where sons Glen and Wayne were born.
In 1957, Tom and Laurie moved back to Sacramento where he started working for a CPA firm and went to night school to study for the CPA exam. In 1960, when Tom passed his CPA exam he started his CPA practice which he would have for the next 5 decades. Shortly after, in 1962 his daughter Kathy was born.
Tom’s interests were many: sailing, cycling, camping, reading, sports teams and travel. His sailing adventures started with a boat not much bigger than a surf board in Folsom Lake. Over the years, he traded up to bigger boats needing bigger marinas. Looking back, Tom would say that a day spent sailing on the San Francisco Bay was a pretty good day, especially if there was a good steady wind. A seafood dinner at Spenger’s in Berkeley was the perfect way to end the day, wind or no wind. Similarly, his cycling, initiated by Laurie, started small at first, but the two ended up cycling all over northern California and parts of Europe.
Always learning, he took many adult ed classes. Chinese cooking was his most rewarding, and his wontons became a family favorite at Christmastime. He loved all sorts of music - Classical Guitar, Johnny Cash, Big Band, and on the 4th of July, very loud patriotic music played at the crack of dawn. He also loved comedy, and his kids can all remember his laughter reverberating down the hallway as he watched Red Skelton or The Honeymooners.
Tom was also generous. Without any fanfare, he made it possible for all of his children and grandchildren to go to college. He was also generous with his time as he volunteered his accounting skills for the Discovery Shop, a non-profit for the American Cancer Society. As his children got older and the family grew, family reunions became a way to stay connected. The first reunion took place circa 1977 at Camp Richardson, Lake Tahoe. He and Laurie kept the tradition going until 2016, with a reunion taking place every 4 to 5 years.
In his early 80s, Tom discovered that he had only one kidney, and as time went by, it became necessary for him to start dialysis in 2019. Tom’s failing health was paralleled by Laurie’s increasing dementia. Still, he was a caregiver to her all the way up to July 2021 when he reluctantly agreed that she needed Memory Care.
In early September 2021 when he was admitted to the hospital, Tom kept his sense of humor with the hospital staff, saying the real reason he was there was that he had “partied too hard on his birthday.” He spent his last day watching his 49ers and Giants win, and he spent his last hours buoyed up by the prayers and loving embraces of his family. The comment heard most from the nurses at the hospital, his home caregivers and the staff at the Assisted Living was the same, “He was our favorite!” Those who know and love him understand why, and it’s why he will be missed beyond measure.
Family and friends are invited to sign the online guest book.
In lieu of flowers, please consider giving to the American Cancer Society
Private Family Memorial at a later date.