CARNELIAN BAY, Calif. — Thomas Francis Heron was described by family this week as a loving and caring father and husband who always put family first and possessed an extraordinary faith for God and Christianity.
“My dad always taught us the benefit of having a great Christian faith to lean on during these hard times,” said his son, Todd Heron. “He loved God tremendously, and taught (his children) to do the same ... He taught us that life is hard, but God is much bigger than the life we live here.”
Tom Heron, a longtime North Shore resident, most recently of Carnelian Bay, died in a vehicle collision last Thursday at Lake Tahoe. He was 67.
According to a report from the California Highway Patrol, at approximately 11:43 a.m. Thursday, Heron was driving his Toyota Tacoma westbound on Highway 28 at about 40 mph when his vehicle crossed into oncoming traffic just east of Ridgewood Drive.
The Tacoma collided with a Toyota Tundra, which was traveling eastbound at approximately the same speed, according to CHP. Heron died at the scene, and the driver of Tundra — a 54-year-old Tahoe City man — was transported to Tahoe Forest Hospital in Truckee, where he underwent surgery for a broken hand.
While the cause of the crash us unknown at this time, alcohol was not a factor, according to CHP.
Heron was born Dec. 7, 1944, in Riverside, R.I. He moved to Tahoma 35 years ago, before moving two years later to Tahoe City. Heron co-owned (with his wife, Brenda) His Touch Cleaning, a small cleaning company based out of Tahoe City that started 11 years after he moved to Tahoe.
“(The business) started with just a couple of rags and a couple of cleaners, but it expanded and grew from there,” recalled his son, Todd Heron, on Monday. “He did what he wanted to do — he was able to be his own boss, and was also able to support his family. But he never put his job first — it was always family first.”
Tom Heron will be remembered by family and the North Tahoe community as a friendly man who always found time to chat with his many clients and neighbors, Todd said.
“He wanted a better life for his family; he always went out of the way for his family,” Todd said when asked what drove Tom to move to Tahoe. “He loved the small-town atmosphere here. We knew he loved everything about it here, and from talking to everyone out here, that’s been really evident.”
Recently, Heron was also the janitor at the Tahoe City and Squaw Valley post offices. Among his many clients for His Touch Cleaning were the Sierra Sun and North Lake Tahoe Bonanza newspapers, who contracted his work to maintain their offices in Truckee, Tahoe City and Incline Village.
Besides his passion for family and his business, another highlight of Heron’s life was when he would proudly display his white beard, put on his Santa hat and hand out candy canes to area children during Christmas.
But it was always family first from Tom, Todd said — and that meant more than just immediate family.
“My wife looked up to my dad. With her not having a father, she saw my dad as her own,” Todd said. “She always called him Papa Tom — she just loved him to death.”
Todd’s wife, Dee, concurred.
“Tom was my father-in-law and I considered him my dad too,” she said. “He will be greatly missed.”
Thomas Francis Heron is survived by his wife of 46 years, Brenda; his children, David (wife Kirsten, children Jake and Ellie), of Bend, Ore.; Jodie Heron-Joslin (husband Bill, children Masha, Bota and Melody), of Fair Oaks, Calif.; Todd (wife Dee) of Fort Collins, Colo.; brothers Ed (wife Lou) of Reno, Nev., and John McElroy (wife Marsha) of Riverside, R.I. His brothers Sumner and Donald preceded him in death.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, May 19, at 3 p.m. at Tahoe Faith Fellowship, 330 Fairway Drive in Tahoe City. In lieu of flowers, donations to help with the loss and words of hope can be sent to Brenda Heron, PO Box 6252, Tahoe City, CA 96145.