Tom, Tommy, Sweetheart, Dad, Grampa, Wawa, Teacher, Pastor. Son, brother, boyfriend, husband, rock, father, uncle, grandfather, mentor, friend, confidant. The many names and titles of George Thomas Glass, Jr.
On Sept. 8, 2021, Tommy went home to be with the Lord after a short but fierce illness. He knew where he was going and who was going to meet him at the gate so, as was typical, he had no fear.
Born in Santa Barbara, Sept. 20, 1947 to George Sr. and Ruby Glass, Tommy attended local schools graduating in 1965 from Santa Barbara High School.
He was offered a number of football scholarships and accepted one to University of Texas, but college football turned out not be as fun as he expected and he returned to Santa Barbara the end of his first year. After a couple semesters at SBCC, Uncle Sam invited him to an event in Vietnam.
He was drafted into the Army in 1967 and earned three Purple Hearts for being wounded on the battlefield. In his unique way to dodge accolades, he said he got them for not ducking fast enough. He was also awarded the AMC for Valor and the Distinguished Service Medal.
Returning to Santa Barbara he graduated Cum Laude from UCSB and in short order was involved in politics as a campaign manager and aide to former Santa Barbara Mayor Don MacGillivray, who introduced him to then Gov. Ronald Reagan. From there he was swept into the national political arena, which positioned him perfectly for his future career.
In the ’70s Tom moved to Orange County to work for State Assemblyman Bob Burke. Named Outstanding Young Man of America, he was then recruited by Signal Mailing in Long Beach, one of largest political direct mail companies in the country where he moved up quickly to vice president.
By God’s grace, Pam’s mother being in the right place at the right time, and enduring love, heart and soul mates, Tom and Pamela Soto married in 1982. A long history as friends and sometimes sweethearts since second grade church choir, theirs was a blessed union in which Tommy instantly became a parent to David and Deanna.
Tommy and Pam often said it was the happiest, best life, full of love and laughter they could have ever imagined.
The family moved to Palos Verdes and eventually Tom opened his own political consulting firm in Torrance. It was a fun and exciting time for two Santa Barbara kids, hobnobbing with movie stars, vice presidents and presidents at special events.
Ever the adventurer, Tommy always had a map out and a plan for a family trip. Fishing trips to the Colorado River, surfing safari for David in Mexico, horseback riding at Death Valley for Deanna, the whole Glass-Soto clan at Big Bear when the snows came, houseboating Lake Shasta, NYC, Washington, D.C. when President Reagan was in office, and he was invited to bring the family for a private tour of the Oval Office, and Hawaii and Mexico a few times.
Along the way Soto niece and nephews Misty, Jonathan, Weston, Matthew, and Nolan, the “practice grandchildren” came along and joined in the fun.
Tom was a huge Gaucho basketball supporter and drove from wherever he was to all the games. For many years Gaucho basketball was a night out with the Sotos, but in recent years games became a special time for Tommy and brother Rick to hang out together.
The day March Madness dates were announced, hotel reservations were made, and the dates blocked for the annual Vegas trip with his college friend, Gary Burke. Nothing superseded March Madness weekend.
In January 2004 a family crisis changed Tommy’s whole life focus. Dropping to his knees, he promised God if you will answer this prayer I will serve you the rest of my life. The prayer was answered and from that moment, Tom dedicated his life to the Lord. He retired early with Pam at his side, bought an RV, traveled, and pondered what the next chapter would bring.
The next chapter brought the births of three perfect and beautiful grandsons Benjamin, Dominick and Jonah. The joy they brought to his heart was immense. The arrival of the first one, Benny, changed Tom and Pam’s lifestyle again when they returned to Santa Barbara to babysit while David and Jenny were at work.
Getting into the groove of grandparenting Tommy and Pam were on hand in San Diego when Dominick was born. Then, it was back to Santa Barbara for Jonah’s arrival. Fun and exciting times. This chapter of life included sports, school performances, and finally, lots of trips in the RV to the East Coast, national parks, The Glass Ranch in Texas, and the all-time fave, which Jonah was too young to go on, Disney World.
During this time, with the blessing of Pastor James Kinzler, Tom started Victorious Life Bible study, a.k.a. The Monday Night Group, at Coast Community Church of the Nazarene. This became a weekly year-round gathering for more than 10 years.
In May of this year Tom taught his 594th lesson before leaving on vacation. His dream was for Victorious Life to become a family who would love on, lean on and pray for each other. He decided sharing a meal together like Jesus did with his disciples would create that bond. Victorious Life did become a family.
Another blessing came to Victorious Life: The Black Sheep Motorcycle Ministry. Shaun Huddleston brought to Monday Night a whole new opportunity for witnessing, sharing and showing God’s love and the Victorious Life family embraced it.
A few years ago, Tom started teaching at the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission, which turned out to be one of his favorite commitments. He couldn’t wait for Thursdays and getting together with the men. He loved those guys.
Tommy was greatly loved and he will be greatly missed, but there is no doubt that Jesus met him at Heaven’s Gate and said, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together.”
Tommy is survived by his wife Pam, children David and Deanna, grandsons Benjamin, Dominick and Jonah, mother Ruby, who refers to Tommy as “the smart son,” and brothers Ron and Rick.
Tom’s service will be 11 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 23 at Welch-Ryce-Haider Funeral Chapel on Ward Memorial Drive in Goleta. The family requests Hawaiian attire or bright colors. In lieu of flowers, a donation to Ventura Black Sheep c/o Eric Roberts, 120 N. La Cumbre Road. #1, Santa Barbara, CA 93110 or the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission, 535 E Yanonali St., SB 93103 is requested.
The family thanks Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital ICU for their care and the compassion they showed us with visitation flexibility the day before Tommy died.