With a struggle, Tom Cagwin left our world. He was not ready, always being positive and fearless of what lay ahead. His family held his strong hands as he left the world he loved, and cried for him. He was an irreplaceable life force who was loved and admired by so many here and around the world. Tom passed away in Friday Harbor, enjoying the mountains he could no longer climb, amongst the conifers, wildflowers and alpen glow he could smell and see every day, and among friends.
He traveled to California to be with even older friends and family each year as well, keeping up those dear and lifelong connections till the end.
Tom was born in San Francisco on February 22, 1933. He came from pioneer families on both sides in search of adventure and fortune and independence, many of the traits he was known for as he grew into a successful, self made man.
Tom spent his younger years in Larkspur in the cottage his grandfather had built in the 1800’s moving to San Rafael for high school. He was student body president while there, Eagle Scout, varsity swimmer and became an avid backpacker in the Sierras. After marrying Nancie Alden in 1954, Tom built his first home in San Anselmo, where the couple raised their two children. He later settled in Mill Valley until his retirement.
Tom became interested in Ornamental Horticulture and Landscape Contracting while in college working for a local nursery. After completing studies at Cal Poly, he started his own company in 1955. He brought a business partner in early on, and Cagwin and Dorward Landscape Contractors was born. His first employees were college friends and Danes and as the company grew, so did the name. Tom was capable, charming, talented, and hard working. He was respected by peers, clients and employees alike. Tom was sought after by landscape architects who found him a strong part of any successful project of theirs. Tom retired in the mid 90s. The company now boasts close to 650 employees with 15 satellite offices and is one of the largest and most successful landscape contracting companies in Northern California. After retirement, Tom became an honorary member of the Danish Soldiers Club having sponsored so many Danes who flourished along with the company they worked for.
Tom lived life to the fullest for as long as he could. He backpacked through the Sierras, climbed as many mountains as he could, including the South Summit of Mt. McKinley in 1969. No one could carry a pack, walk as fast, set up camp, cook edible food, light a fire or have fun like Tom.
Tom was well traveled developing lasting friendships worldwide. He especially enjoyed small island life, being a resident in Haleiwa, HI for 30 years, Piha, NZ for 12 years and Friday Harbor, WA for over 25 years.
Tom had several wives and heartaches but he remained a romantic to his death.
Tom is survived by his son, Jonathan Cagwin of San Anselmo, his daughter Lori Cagwin and grandson Shaun Leavy of Yountville, in addition to nieces & nephews Tom Cook, Terry Bickmore, Cristy Grawcock and their children. He is also survived by cousins George Cagwin, Cindy Barbera, Barbara Phillips, D’Arcy Dettner, Dave Zec, Dick Costa and their families.
Family and friends are invited to celebrate his life at the small church his grandparents founded in 1901. The service will begin 1 PM on June 16th, 2017 at Holy Innocents Episcopal Church, 2 Tamalpais Drive, Corte Madera with reception immediately following. A Celebration of his life in Friday Harbor to be planned later this summer.
While this obituary was written, the skies opened up, the thunder roared and lightning flashed and he was with us again, exciting and alive.