Thomas Williston Jr.

Obituary of Thomas Harold Williston Jr.

Thomas Harold Williston Jr. was born on April 1, 1950, in Charlotte, NC. He died at his home in Baltimore, MD, on Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, following a long illness. He was 71. The date of Tom's birth caused his father, Dr. Thomas Harold Williston Sr. of Gastonia, NC, to believe it was an April Fools prank orchestrated by his wife, Polly Scott Williston, so he kept working. Polly had given him six daughters thus far and was concerned about what he'd do if she did not give him a son. In labor, she drove herself to a hospital in Charlotte some 20 miles away to have Tom, the first of two sons. An overjoyed Dr. Williston requested a police escort for her return home. Throughout his life Tom spent each April playing jokes on the unsuspecting. His childhood friend George Creed vouches for this in a book he is writing titled Things My Friends Have Told Me. In the first chapter titled "Tom," George writes, "Everyone should have a friend like Tom. He doesn't care if it is dangerous ... as long as it's fun." Tom, his parents, sisters Judith Lloyd (Judy), Patricia Anne (Patsey), Mary Katherine (Kitty), Polly Gertrude (Nonnie), Harriet Edna (Scotty), Jane Emily and brother Joseph Benjamin (Joe) lived on N. Falls St. in Gastonia. Prior to his family residing there, their home was known as the Pest Hospital, the only place where blacks could receive medical care. The building is now on a historical listing. Tom, who was also known as Tommy and Little Doc, graduated from Frank L. Ashley High School in Gastonia in 1967. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from North Carolina Central University in Durham. Tom further studied for a Master’s degree in science at Morgan State University, took courses at Duke University, and earned an online doctorate in Environmental Sciences. After Tom met Barbara JoAnne Norris of Baltimore in 1975, they married that year and settled in Baltimore. They welcomed five children into their homes -- Robert Paul, Rose Marie Katharine, Shiree Danielle, Ericka JoAnne and Michelle Victoria Williston. Tom saw to it that the Willistons embraced many pets: dogs, baby alligators, geese, parrots, a hawk, and the snake that had 30-some babies. Tom taught science in Baltimore City Public Schools. He was so good at it that a special position was created for him as the EdZoocation Specialist serving elementary schools. Tom instructed teachers on how to integrate science into the classroom. During visits, he'd bring animals for the children to pet as they were taught the important role of animals in their lives. Tom arranged field trips for students and enjoyed working with Ranger Rick Smith at the Carrie Murray Nature Center. Tom became so beloved that he was asked to be a godparent to some of his students' children. Health issues prompted Tom to take an early retirement. He later bought an Amoco gas station that soon became a family enterprise. Tom also became a charter board member of friend Andrea Jackson's Open-Heart Sanctuary, a non-profit charity helping those in greatest need in Northwest Baltimore. Friends teased Tom about living the life of a country gentleman during retirement: enjoying breakfasts with buddies who joined him for a dip in his indoor pool, hobnobbing with members of a local yacht club and showboating his own modest yacht, The Golden Sandfin III; hunting, fishing with George, who actually became a veterinarian like Tom desired to be. George would get Tom out on a boat where Tom could not run away and talk to him about God. In the early 1980s, Tom took part in an Earthwatch expedition to South America. Earthwatch projects connect volunteers with scientists worldwide to conduct environmental reserch aimed at conserving the planet. But instead of returning home at the end of the expedition, Tom lingered near Brazil where he met some unsavory Mafia-type characters banned from entering the United States. Oddly enough, they protected him there because they loved his jokes! Whenever in Gastonia, Tom would point to where a Howard Johnson Hotel used to be on Hwy. 321. He once managed it, working alongside another childhood friend, Ed Mason, who became a prominent engineer before his sudden passing in 2020. As the ups and downs of life took their toll on Tom, the things of God began to resonate with him. He was overheard in one hospital crying out, "Jesus, help me!" Preceding Tom in death were his parents, sisters Judith Lloyd Burkey, Emily and Nonnie, brother Joe and close friend Ike Thompson. Tom leaves to mourn him his wife of 46 years, Barbara JoAnne; daughters Rose Marie, Shiree and Ericka Williston and Michelle Williston Williams (Jamie); son Robert Williston; grandchildren Sahara Dodson, Cameron and Caleb Davenport, Brianna Williams, Sara Williston, Andrew Lamon, Gabriella Law, Mackenzie and Makayla Quijano; sisters Kitty, Patsey and Scotty Williston; sisters-in-law Carole Greene (Andre, also a caregiver), Cynthia and Kathy Norris; brothers-in-law Robert (Teri) and David (Octavia) Norris; cousin Pete Bailey; godson Marvin Thomas Marshall; honorary sons Lloyd Quan (Chandle) and Yusuf Osiruphu-el; longtime friends from North Carolina: George Creed (Natalie), Marvita Mason, Shirley Holmes and Calvin DeShields; local friends Leo Devine, Monty Chambers (Ruth), Andrea Jackson (Lee Richburg), Tommy Marshall, Arnold Hayes (Doris), Baltimore Co. Councilman Julian Jones (Sabrina), Elmira Thornton, Carlos (Rabbit) Smith, Emmanuel Daramola (Abby), Gary Camponeshi, Thomas Hampton, Skip Lewis (April), Bob Murrow, Leon Bridges, Antoine Harris, caregiver Teneara Harris, Barbara Kramer of Lancaster, PA, and a host of other family and friends.
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Saturday
20
November

Visitation

10:00 am - 11:00 am
Saturday, November 20, 2021
Loudon Park Funeral Home
3620 Wilkens Avenue
Baltimore, Maryland, United States
(410) 644-1900
Saturday
20
November

Funeral Service

11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Saturday, November 20, 2021
Loudon Park Funeral Home
3620 Wilkens Avenue
Baltimore, Maryland, United States
(410) 644-1900
Saturday
20
November

Burial

12:00 pm
Saturday, November 20, 2021
Loudon Park Cemetery
3620 Wilkens Avenue
Baltimore, Maryland, United States
410-644-1900
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