Thomas A. Lera, Sr., 85, passed away at his Galveston home on Friday, February 24, 2012 after a brief illness. He was surrounded by loving family.
Tom was born to Thomas Lera and Katherine Brick Lera on December 22, 1926 in Galveston, Texas, where he was a lifetime resident. Following his father’s passing when Tom was 2, he was raised by his mother and Granny. Tom attended St. Patrick Catholic School and graduated valedictorian of the Kirwin High Buccaneers, class of 1943.
Tom began his career with the American Indemnity Group while still in high school and worked exclusively for them for the next 51 years. He served in numerous positions for American Indemnity, retiring in 1993 as Vice President of Internal Audit. He is perhaps best remembered for his compassion and caring while performing his job at all levels. The only interruption in his career was due to his honorable service in the U. S. Army in Germany from 1945 to 1946.
He was active in the following industry, civic, and religious organizations: the Insurance Accounting and Systems Association [IASA] serving on its board of directors and as president; founding member, parish council, finance committee and men’s club at St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church, and most recently as a member of the Holy Family Parish; a founding and 50 year member of the Galveston Noon Optimist Club, serving as president; and a faithful member of the Msgr. Kirwin Council of the Knights of Columbus #787 for 50+ years. Tom was a long-standing member of the Serra Club, serving as president and board member; served as a member of the O’Connell High School board, and was an inaugural class inductee of the Mercy Park’s ‘Red Rose’ honorees in 2008.
Most recently, Tom relished his move back to his homestead where he enjoyed hosting the Wednesday happy hour group, his Roosters Club buddies, the Old Salts group; and weekly lunches with Paul and Frankie. Tom had a fervor for genealogy – not just that of his biological family – he was keenly devoted to the alumni of Kirwin, Dominican, and Ursuline and kept a treasure chest of information on graduates, reunion masses, lay and religious teachers and so much more.
Tom was an avid sports fan and a statistical genius. He was particularly fond of baseball for his entire life, but he also developed an appreciation and passion for all sportsmanship activities and for those who ethically participated in them.
Tom was preceded in death by his parents and his wife, Mary Edna “Butchie,” the love of his life for 56 years!
Tom was a devoted father, Paw-Paw, Uncle and friend to many. He is survived by son, Tom, Jr. of Oklahoma City; son, Greg and Lillie Lera of Friendswood, their children Rudy, Chris, Allie, and Kyle; daughter, Peggy and Kenny Whitworth of League City, their children Van, Jake, Trevor, and Tori; and son, Jordan and Terri Lera of Kemah, their children Jordi, Ross, Brooke, and Samantha.
He is also survived by loving sisters-in-law, Glad Noland, Texas City and Frankie Hillman, Santa Fe; numerous nieces and nephews; grand nieces and nephews; relatives of the Brick-Fahey-Lera-Jordan families and a lifetime of great neighbors and friends.
Pallbearers are grandsons: Van Blackman, Ross Lera, Jake Blackman, Trevor Whitworth, Kyle Lera, and Rudy Sanchez.
Honorary pallbearers include Eddie Janek, Paul Bohn, Billy Coltzer, Bette Nonus, Louie Giusti, Alice Whiteman, Deacon WJ Bobb, Frankie Williamson, Jim Sutton, Sue and Clarence Cantini, Jimmy Milligan, and grandson: Sgt. Chris Sanchez, USMC, active duty.
The family will receive visitors after 4:30 pm, Tuesday, February 28th, at St. Patrick Catholic Church, 35th and Broadway. A vigil service will begin at 7:00pm, led by Deacon Sam Dell’Olio.
A mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 10:00am on Wednesday, February 29th at St. Patrick Catholic Church with Father EJ Stein, OFM, as Celebrant. Burial will follow at Calvary Catholic Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be made to the Tom Lera Scholarship at O’Connell College Preparatory School, 1320 Tremont, Galveston, TX 77550.
The family wishes to express their appreciation for the care and concern from Tom’s recent homecare staff: John Holden, Olivia Mata, and Sharon Criado; his doctor, Alex Duarte and the ALS staff at Baylor College of Medicine. They all allowed him to independently live out his days in his much-loved Galveston home and community.