Community Voices

The DOWNTOWN Report: Early June 2023

A Community Comes Together

Here is the promised follow-up to our announcement in the Early May issue. Hundreds of people from near and far joined The Fullerton Fire Family, the Fullerton Police Department, members of the Los Angeles and Costa Mesa Fire Departments, California State Firefighters Association, Orange County Fire Authority, and California Association of School Transportation Officials at a moving Celebration Of Life for Tommy Thompson, who served our city for over 35 years and passed away on May 5 after battling a long illness.

Pastor Fernando Villicana provided the welcome and opening prayer at Fullerton Free Church, and Chief Adam Loeser followed with acknowledgments. Tributes and remembrances followed along with a captivating video. Tommy was a California Department Firefighter, Prevention Inspector, Fire Investigator, and United States Army Veteran, and he also served in other areas.

We turned to a few who knew him most for comments. Corrie Allen, one of his closest friends and colleague for decades, and one of five who were with Tommy when he passed: “Tommy told me a few weeks back at the hospital that he’d like to have an antique crown bus and antique fire engine, the Maxwell, and CSFA Steamer on display.”

On the Procession: “The Police, all the fire trucks, people standing at attention, as we drove through his neighborhood to Loma Vista with the most respect and honor I’ve ever experienced. It made me cry (I know he was smiling).

Tommy’s legacy will continue.” Steve Wood, another friend and retired FFD Battalion Chief, about ‘Team Tommy,’ a large group assembled to plan the Celebration of Life, viewing, memorial service, reception, and burial, on what it meant to all who honored Tommy: “It was clear in the actions that you had such a high regard for our dear friend Tommy, but I could also see it in the solemness of your eyes. Tears are words the heart can’t express. It is my prayer, as it has been said so many times, that we pause and look back at Tommy’s impact on our lives and find ways to carry those same set of values forward.”

The remembrances of Baltazar Hernandez, who was taken in by Tommy and mentored into a hard-working, honest business owner, admirable man, husband, and father, delivered the most emotional moments at the celebration. After all, he was only about 18, did not speak English, and was pushing his bike with a flat tire in the rain when Tommy the Good Samaritan pulled over and gave him a ride home.

Later, after befriending the family, he also gave him an actual home for years, ensuring he got an education and making it possible for him to make a great life for himself and, eventually, his own family.

Photo of Tommy Thompson inside his 1912 Maxwell, it was his Dad’s car