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Thomas Q. Fulton, Sr. Biography

Thomas Quayle Fulton age 80 of Bainbridge Twp. Passed away Nov 2, 2005 from complications stemming from congestive heart failure.

Beloved husband of Martha (nee Laidley).

Dear father of Thomas Q. Fulton Jr. (Kathleen Hardesty), Janet (Rick) Taylor, Joan (Alan) Gangl, Ann (Patrick) Johnson, Jane (David) Wegener, Robert (Teri) Fulton.

Grandfather of 12. Brother of David C. Fulton and John M. Fulton.

Memorial Services 2 PM Saturday Nov 26, 2005 at The Federated Church 76 Bell Street Chagrin Falls.

Memorials May be made to

  • The Rotary Foundation P. O. Box 23432 Chagrin Falls, OH 44023 or
  • WKHR 91.5 Radio 17425 Snyder Road Chagrin Falls, Oh 44023.

Tom was born in Cleveland, Ohio, son of Marion Quayle and Frederic Campbell Fulton. During his early years, he lived on East Fairfax road in Cleveland Heights and later moved to Dartmoor Road off of Lee, also in Cleveland Heights. He graduated from Cleveland Heights High School at the age of 17.

While at Heights High, he was an excellent student and athlete, serving on the high school diving and swimming teams. (The Tiger swimmers continued a domination of that sport by clinching the LEL and City crowns in 1941) He began his college years at Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts, which were interrupted by World War II.

At the end of his freshman year, Tom enlisted in the United States Navy and served in the Pacific Theater as a Pharmacist's Mate. In that capacity, he assisted doctors and surgeons attending and operating upon wounded combat veterans aboard ship. After the war was over, Tom was assigned to serve in the American occupation of the Island of Truk that began on November 24, 1945.

Upon his honorable discharge, Tom returned to Amherst. He majored in economics, became a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity, and was captain of the Amherst College Swim Team where he distinguished himself as regional diving champion in New England.

His game of tennis -- a life-long sport and passion -- was and is described as "awesome". He graduated with honors in 1949. While in college, Tom met his wife, Martha Laidley, a student at Wells College in Aurora, New York. They were married on June 24, 1950 at Christ Episcopal Church in Shaker Heights. In honor of their union, the next day the Korean War erupted!

As of this writing, (November 2005) they have been married 55 years, have six children (Tom, Joan, Janet, Ann, Jane and Bob) and 12 grandchildren (Adam, Alison, Susan, Dylan, Sarah, Katie, Meghan, Courtney, Blake, Carolyn, Jenny, and Heather)

After his marriage, Tom returned to Cleveland and went to work for The Cleveland Trust Co. in the trust department. He and Marty lived in a double house in Shaker Heights. While working full time, he also attended Cleveland Marshall Law School (Cleveland State University) in the evenings and graduated Magna Cum Laude with the honor of being chosen editor of the Cleveland Marshall Law Review. He passed the Ohio Bar Exam at his first sitting, although in his career he never formally practiced law.

His father, Frederic, created a new mortgage company called Fulton & Goss and invited Tom to join. Tom came into the family firm as an officer at their offices at East 9th and Euclid Avenue in the Union Commerce Building. Subsequently, his brothers Dave and John joined him and their father at the firm. He joined the Cleveland Jaycees and by the mid 1950's, was elected President (twice) of that organization, receiving the Outstanding President Award.

In 1957, he and Marty were part of the Jaycee delegation invited to attend the XII World Congress of Jaycee International in Tokyo, Japan, serving as post-WWII good will ambassadors working for global peace and understanding.

Tom also was active for many years as a volunteer member, officer and tireless fund-raiser and promoter for the Ohio Lung Association and its mission. As a mortgage banker, Tom was President of the Young Men of the Mortgage Industry and President of the Mortgage Bankers Association of Metropolitan Cleveland. He was honored by the Cleveland Plain Dealer as one of the ten outstanding young men of Cleveland.

In 1952, Tom, Marty (and now Tom Jr.) moved to Lake Lucerne, Bainbridge Township, Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and built their home on a lot that belonged to his grandfather and where he himself had spent many summers of his childhood. At Lake Lucerne, Tom immersed himself in community efforts. He served as President of the Lake Lucerne Trustee Board for two years and also was a member of the Bainbridge Zoning Board.

In 1957, he and Marty were founding charter members of the Valley Presbyterian Church where he was an elected Elder, Trustee and Youth Group Advisor. Tom was an active member of Valley Presbyterian for 48 years and a faithful participant in the Men’s Prayer Breakfast Group for 22 years.

In the mid 60's, Tom and Marty helped found The Kenston Players, where they both performed in a wide variety of community theatre plays. Tom is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Oscar in the Odd Couple by Neil Simon, but he also acted in such plays as George Washington Slept Here, Never Too Late, My Three Angels, Arthur Miller's drama All My Sons, Mr. Roberts, How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, The Crucible, West Side Story and in 1970, he played the Old Actor in The Fantastiks in a production directed by his son Tom, Jr. In all, he appeared in 38 plays, with major roles to his credit.

From 1952 to 1963, the family lived in Lake Lucerne on Woodmere drive, where Joan and Janet (twins), Ann and Jane were born (Tom Jr. was born just before they moved to Lake Lucerne.) In 1963, they moved just outside Lake Lucerne to a beautiful home on 14 acres of land called Sugarbush Farm. Young Bob was born in the fall of 1963. Until his death Tom lived in the perfect empty nesters’ home in Twilea (Bainbridge) with his wife, Marty, where he was passionate about gardening, second only to fishing.

Upon retiring, he became one of the many volunteer disc jockeys on station WKHR-FM, 91.5, serving as "The Morning Man" on Monday mornings, presenting the Big Bands, singers and melodies of the 1940's and 50's. He was also the Wednesday morning "Weather Man". He opened his show with It’s a Lovely Day Today which it always was for him.

Tom joined the Cleveland Rotary Club in the 1970’s and, along with his two younger brothers, David and John, maintained active membership there for many years. After his retirement from mortgage banking, Tom joined the Chagrin Valley Rotary Club in June of 1998. While a Chagrin Valley Rotarian, he has served in a variety of Club-sponsored efforts, including Meals on Wheels delivery and service as club treasurer and board member. He also delivered Meals on Wheels weekly for the Federated Church in Chagrin Falls, developing a cheerful rapport with his many recipients who looked forward to his visits.

On August 6, 2002, "in recognition of the spirit of Rotary exemplified in his character, life and service to the Club and to others across the span of years of his life, he was presented with the Paul Harris Fellow Award for his "gregarious good will, self-effacing sense of humor, gentle spirit, affability and authentic compassion for others."

In 1958, Tom's father Fred bought a cottage on Ahmic Lake, a beautiful spot near Algonquin Park in northern Ontario. Since that day Tom and the family have visited "The Cedars" every year. It became Tom and Marty's home away from home and one of the greatest joys of his life, visiting there with the kids and their friends. He loved to fish, and simply sit on the dock with a bloody Mary and embrace the enduring peace of that lake. Ahmic Lake (dubbed by his friend Bill Althans as "an Indian name for lake with no damn fish!"), was heaven to Dad. It is impossible to put into words the great love he held in his heart for the trees, the breeze, the waves, the sky and the joy of life he felt there. If his soul lingers in this world at all, it will be on Ahmic, in the wobbly laughter of the loon, and the sparkling sunrise that wakes us each morning all like a million silver birds.

His ashes will be buried there, so, as he said to me (Tom Jr.) on his last day there: "What a beautiful view!"  Then, as he was walking to the car, he said "When I die, I want my ashes buried at the end of the dock.  Right there.  So I will be able see this view forever....".

... When we were driving away, he looked along the old Cedar Croft shore, smiled and said wistfully, "When I was a kid, we used to take a big basket and fill it with raspberries.  All along these woods... that was something!.... all those raspberries...."