Papa Tom Ferrando was born in San Francisco to Frank and Elizabeth Ferrando. He was an only child and grew up on the family property living with his aunt and uncle Olive and King Granger.
At a young age Tom married his first wife Loann. They had five boys together. In 1968, Tom and Loann moved their young family to the northwest with Seattle, Washington as their target, but settled in Salem, Ore. In 1974 Tom and Loann divorced and Tom married again to his second wife Margaret. During that marriage Tom had two more children. Tom’s final child was his only daughter.
Papa Tom taught plumbing and welding at the Oregon Correctional Institution in Salem, OR for a short time and in 1977 started his own plumbing business (Budget Plumbing). Tom taught the trade to his sons who all at one time were plumbers as well. Tom retired from plumbing with four of his sons and four of his grandchildren who are currently still in the trade.
Tom found a love of cars and racing from an early age. He started racing Figure 8 and competing in demolition derbies in the San Francisco area at the age of 21. After moving to Salem, Tom continued racing and competing in derby’s at Salem Speedway meeting his lifelong friend, Tom Finney. The two traveled the western states and Canada competing together. In 1988, Papa Tom helped start the Pro-4 West Racing Association. You could find Tom racing his 1965 Ford Mustang Fastback still at the age of 81 years old competing at the same level as he did at the age of 21. Most of Tom’s sons and grandchildren followed into his racing and demolition derby footsteps competing with and against him. Some still compete today. For over 20 years the two Tom’s along with Art Anderson could be found in Reno, NV for Hot August Nights. With this love of cars, at the time of his death Tom passed with a steering wheel in his hand driving a side by side vehicle.
When not racing Tom could be found with his son and daughter-in-law Tyler and Renee traveling the United States and Canada. As it was Tom’s nature to always help a friend or family, they could be often found towing a trailer offering assistance whenever he could. A trait that was not lost with any of his children or grandchildren.
Papa Tom was an active member of the American Legion, Eagles, and Elks for much of his life. Tom volunteered whenever he could. He could also be found enjoying a good meal and singing Karaoke with friends. Outside the fraternal organizations Tom belonged to, he could be found singing in many bars in the Salem area that offered him the opportunity. Many of those establishments recognized Papa Tom’s passing on their reader boards.
Papa Tom leaves his legacy through his children; Tim (Gina), Co (Priscilla), Tully (Steve), Tyler (Renee), Tobey, Terry (Tammi), and daughter Traci. Tom is also survived by several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. All of whom will miss him during his birthday celebration and annual Christmas parties. Family was very important to Tom. In addition to Tom’s family he leaves many friends who he treated like members of his family regardless of how long you knew him. For those who did not know Papa Tom you certainly had heard of him.
Following Tom’s final wishes he will be cremated and his remains will be taken on his final road trip back to his birthplace spreading his ashes in San Francisco Bay with his mother and stepfather, Bernard Tor, on what would have been his 82nd birthday, Oct. 1, 2020 by his family.
Keep wheeling and singing in heaven Papa Tom! Your memory and legacy lives on here and you will be sorely missed.
Papa Tom Ferrando’s celebration of life will be held Sunday September 13th, 2020 from noon to 3 p.m. at Volcanoes Stadium in Keizer, Ore.