Born an Englishman, died an American Thomas Charles Elkin (Tom) a long time residence of Redondo Beach passed away at home on January 14, 2019 at the age of 84. Born April 15, 1934, in Doncaster, Yorkshire, England, the second to youngest child of 7 children, Tom grew up in Northern England during WW2. During the Blitz, he remembered carrying a gas mask to school each day and running to the bomb shelters when the sirens went off at night. As a young man he had many different jobs, coal miner, double decker bus driver, scrap metal distributor, painter, cement delivery man, and door to door vacuum cleaner salesman. At the age of 19, he joined the UK Royal Airforce and was stationed in Germany. This began his lifelong passion for aviation and travel. He would eventually get his pilot’s license, flight engineers license and airplane mechanics and inspectors licenses. After 3 years in the UK Royal Airforce, he started his aviation career back in England. He married his wife Helena in 1964. In 1966, with his wife and baby daughter, Sharon in tow, the family moved to Ndola, Zambia on the continent of Africa for a job working as foreman for Zambian Air Cargo. In 1969, he moved his family to Alaska to work for Alaska International as Assistant Director of Maintenance, he often flew with the plane as flight engineer/mechanic. Then in 1973, he moved briefly to California, with his now family of 4, including son Joseph. It was during this 2 month time in Redondo Beach that he found where he wanted to make his forever home, but there was to be a few side trips before his dream was to be realized. Tom moved the family to Puerto Rico to work for Air Indies for just over a year. The next move was to be to Pakistan for 3 years to work for Marathon Oil, as Chief of Maintenance for two-engine planes. But, after settling in, there was a military overthrow of the government of Pakistan, so they had to escape the country in the middle of the night. The family then found safe ground in Miami, Florida, where his family lived for just under a year, while Tom travelled back and forth from Miami to Brazil, where he organized the salvaging of a crashed jet airliner out of the Brazilian rainforest. The next stop was back to Redondo Beach, where he built his house and thought he would live the rest of his days, but there were more detours to come. After becoming an American citizen in 1980 and a short lived career in Real Estate, Tom accepted a position in Tokyo, Japan as Director of Maintenance for all of Asia for Northwest Orient Airline, and he travelled continually between Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia and he opened up the airport for Northwest in Shanghai, China. After 5 years in Tokyo, Tom again returned to his home in Redondo Beach, still working with Northwest Orient in another position for about 6 months. The children were now grown, so Tom took his wife with him while he worked in Miami for 6 months and then to New York for 6 months. Then returned back to his home in California and bought a Carpet Cleaning business, which he ran for about a year, and had contracts with Princess Cruises Lines, cleaning the ships carpets when the ships were in dock in San Pedro and Seattle. He missed his passion, which was airplanes, so his wife took over the Carpet Cleaning business, and Tom bought a small airplane repair business at Chino Airport. He shared a hanger with another business and was well respected by all his customers who brought their one and two engine airplanes in for repair. He ran this business for 13 years, and at the age of 65, he and his wife made the decision to sell both businesses, and take time to travel now that they were both retired. They packed up their home for the 3rd time and travelled extensively around the country in their motorhome, visiting every state. But, each summer they would fly back to England and pick one additional country in Europe to visit in their travel trailer that was stored in England. They would spend a month traveling and touring in each country they visited. Over the years they explored France, Belgium, Spain, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Italy. Then after 5 years, Tom decided to move back in his home in Redondo Beach, but still continued to make shorter trips in the motorhome and through Europe. Over the years, Tom also travelled to Australia, Portugal, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Greece, to name a few, and was always researching new places to explore. The only thing he loved more than airplanes and travel was his family. Tom leaves his wife of 54 years, Helena, his daughter Sharon (husband Steve Rudometkin), his son Joseph (wife Karrie), his grandchildren, Joey Elkin (wife Jessie), Alec Rudometkin and Elizabeth Elkin, his great grandchildren, Joseph Nash, Elliana, Isabella and Josephine, his sister Betty and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Joseph and Jean Elkin, his brothers Joe and Leslie, sisters Olive and Josey, and his beloved sister Joan.

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  1. My earliest memories of Uncle Tom are when he lived in Doncaster with my nanny and grandad, Auntie Joan, Uncle Harry and his two nieces Diane and Jenny. As a little girl, with my mum, his sister Betty, we would often be at nanny’s house and Uncle Tom would be sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of tea.
    Many years later, every time Uncle Tom and Auntie Helena visited England, the kitchen table at Auntie Joan’s house would again become Uncle Tom’s regular spot but this time with something stronger than a cup of tea!
    The Elkin family, and their partners by now had expanded to several generations and would gather there for a get together.
    Listening to Uncle Tom’s stories about his childhood, his various jobs ( including the one about being a vacuum cleaner salesman) and his travels around the world were enthralling, funny, entertaining, sometimes hair raising and became legendary!
    Back in October 2000, along with my husband Jimmy, my cousin Diane, her husband John, and their son Andy, I was lucky enough to visit Uncle Tom and Auntie Helena in Redondo Beach. We all have great memories of our trip and it’s lovely to know that we had that time with Uncle Tom at his home in America.
    Uncle Tom was a very special man and he certainly did do it his way.
    With All Our Love
    Julie and Jimmy xxx

  2. We have many fond memories of Uncle Tom, he was part of our childhood for a while. We were bridesmaids at his wedding to Auntie Helena in Mablethorpe. He certainly saw a lot of the world with his jobs and travels. Mum and all of us looked forward to his visits to England and we would have a family gathering. Uncle Tom could tell a good tale and keep us amused and entertained. The visit would usually involve a trip to the pub. One particular pub was The Three Horse Shoes which was well known to him as the family used to have the cafe next door. I don’t think the pub has changed over the years. It was lovely to be able to visit America to see him on his own turf. Mum had several holidays with Tom and Helena and really enjoyed her time there. Uncle Tom will always bring a smile to our faces when we think of him and stay forever in our hearts. Good Night God Bless.
    Love Jenny and Diane xxxx

  3. I have many great memories of Tom from his visits to England and our visit to his home in Redondo Beach,
    One that stands out vividly is when Helena and Tom were travelling around Europe with their friends Jay and Cecy.
    One Sunday we had all been for a meal and retired to the Three Horseshoes pub where Tom held court with his stories
    when he lived close by. The pub had an old aerial photo showing the pub and the house where he lived. It was a great afternoon when Californian wine met Yorkshire beer.
    Rest in peace Tom

  4. My condolences to Helena, Sharon and the remaining family members. So sorry for your loss.

    I considered Tom a special friend. We met while working at the airport in Karachi, Pakistan in 1976 and again worked together for Northwest Airlines in the 80’s. I have many very special memories with Tom. Tom was always a trusted friend and will be missed greatly.

  5. I have many fond memories of Tom from his trips to England with Helena and also my times out in the states. The one time that I will never forget was almost 4 years ago in Las Vegas. My wife and I were in Vegas for a friends wedding and we had arranged to meet Tom and Helena for a couple of drinks, some food and a catch up. We met them in Main Street Station in old Vegas, Tom recommended it as it had its own Micro brewery and the food was good. After a pleasant afternoon trying a ‘ few’ of the beers we went back to Tom and Helena’s motor home. I was expecting to see a big RV style motor home like you see in the movies but I was a lot more surprised when I saw the little English caravan that they had had shipped back to the states. Not many people can say they went to Vegas and had Tea and biscuits but that’s what makes the memories I have of Tom special.

    Sincere condolences to Helena, Sharon, Joe and families, sending all of our love at this sad time.

    Rest in peace Tom, I’ll never forget you

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