Tom Willow was born in May 1933 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He graduated from high school in 1951 and earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from Marquette University in 1955. When he was 22 years old, he joined the Army Oct. 12, 1955.
Willow completed basic training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. Later, he completed advanced training in artillery at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. Since he had a two-year active duty commitment, he decided against attending Officer Candidate School.
He completed his last 18 months of active duty at Fort Benning, Georgia. With a degree in journalism, he edited and published articles for Fort Benning’s official weekly newspaper, the Bayonet. Working on these publications in the Army’s Public Information Office, he obtained valuable news skills. The Bayonet was also printed in the Ledger-Enquirer, which was the local newspaper of Columbus, Georgia.
The first day after being discharged from the Army, he started his civilian position at the Ledger-Enquirer. While with the paper, he managed to work his way up to the position of assistant sports editor. In 1957, he became a sports reporter for the Atlanta Journal and covered Major League Baseball.
In 1964, he moved to Los Angeles, California, where he currently resides. There, he worked for Bank of America as a media specialist. Later, he became the public relations executive for the Associated General Contractors of California in 1970 and stayed for 20 years. In 1990, he created his own practice, Willow Communications, and retired in 2000.
On Aug. 10, 1968, he married his wife, Joyce, at the San Gabriel Mission. They raised two children, Ellen and Nickolas. Today, Willow and Joyce are active in their church. Willow also volunteers with the Knights of Columbus, a men’s charitable organization.
“My Army days, brief as they were, were a great experience (in) ‘growing up’ and meeting super people,” Willow said.
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Writer: Hannah Nelson