Editor's note: Tom Munds passed away on Feb. 6. He will be deeply missed by all of us at Colorado Community Media.
I was born and raised in Portsmouth, Virginia, near Chesapeake Bay. My dad was a bootlegger, and he was fine when he was sober, but when he got drunk, he got physically abusive.
At 16 … one night, I said no more, and I grabbed him (and had a physical struggle). My mother came to me and said she doesn’t want that to happen again. She moved us to my half-sister’s … moved to Miami. We lived there until I graduated from high school.
Dreams of flight
Right after I graduated — a matter of days — I joined the Air Force. I was in the Air Force for 21 years, nine months and 14 days. I graduated high school in 1955.
I wanted to fly — wanted to be a pilot. (But I) went to military tech school in Mississippi as an intercept operator. The job is to listen on the radio to the Russian transmissions, which were in Morse code.
My job was to copy the transmissions … I did that for almost a year in Alaska.
On the road
I had gone back to Portsmouth for Mother’s Day. I was on a Greyhound Bus … there was a young lady on (the other) side of me, and she was getting on, and there were a bunch of rowdy guys getting on, so she asked if she could sit with me.
I found out that her grandma lived two blocks from my grandma in Portsmouth — we knew all kinds of people that each other knew.
Ten days after we met, I asked her to marry me. We were married 53 years until she passed away. She was a marvelous woman.
Coming to Colorado
Eventually, it worked out so I got reassigned to Lowry Air Force Base (in east Denver) because of my daughter and her needs for treatment through the Air Force program at Fitzsimons Army hospital.
I got money as a freelancer for the Air Force paper at Lowry … (and eventually) worked for Ann and Jerry Healey (who now run Colorado Community Media).
I really loved what I did. … I can’t tell you how much I miss writing.
Giving back abroad
I went on mission trips to Nicaragua through the nonprofit Casa Unida Foundation. We paid our own expenses, and we helped build a school and gave away little wooden toys.
A kid in Nicaragua, that was the first personal toy that was his — he was 6 years old … When that little boy stood against the wall crying because that’s the first toy he had ever owned personally, my heart was full.
Any time I could help somebody… It made me feel better. I didn’t do it for a reward or pat on the back. I did it so I could feel like I was doing something to help someone. Lord willing… I want to see if there’s a way I can continue to help others in some small way.
Love note to Englewood
Tell the people of Englewood that I love them — I am so happy to be at least a member of that community. I didn’t live there, but they accepted me.
There are communities, people I met, that if I don’t live next door to you, I wouldn’t know your name. Englewood is like an old-fashioned community where not everybody, but particularly the older families, they have that neighborly thing. A lot of them know each other’s name.
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