Obituary: Thomas Lester Kilduff

May 21, 1947 ~ Dec. 21, 2021

Thomas Lester Kilduff, 74, passed on Dec. 21, 2021. He was born May 21, 1947, in Collbran, Colorado, to the late Howard Kilduff and the late Erma Dunn. Tom attended primary school in Meeker. By middle school, Tom had moved with his parents to the Nevada-California border for his father’s work as assistant ranch manager on the late Freeman Fairfield’s ranches. Tom graduated from Gardnerville High School in 1965. He attended Sierra Community College until 1966 when he decided to enlist in the Marine Corps. Tom served in the 2nd Battalion/4th Marines (Magnificent Bastards) from Dec. 21, 1967 to Jan. 11, 1969, completing three tours in Vietnam where he advanced to Sergeant and was honorably discharged in 1970 due to injuries he suffered during the war.

During his time in the military, Tom earned several awards and medals for his bravery and sacrifices including Bronze Star Medal with Combat V, Navy Achievement Medal with Combat V, Purple Heart w/ Star (two purples), Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Unit Commendation, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with one Silver Star and four Bronze Stars, Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Cross of Gallantry with Palm, USMC Rifle Expert Shooter’s Badge and Pistol Sharpshooter Badge, as well as several Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Citations.

In 1974, Tom was officially retired from his military service after marrying his beautiful bride Jeannie Johnson in February of the same year. Tom spent more than 10 years as a cowboy for K/K ranch in Meeker before beginning his career as a soil conservation technician for the Natural Resources Conservation Service in the United States Department of Agriculture, from which he retired. Throughout his life, Tom enjoyed serving his community as an Alcoholics Anonymous leader and sponsor with just over 37½ years of sobriety at his time of death. He also served as VFW Post 5843 Commander and dedicated his free time to Military Historical Tours, taking veterans back to historical battle sites around the globe to assist in their healing process. Tom’s passions were his family, especially his grandchildren for whom he radiated extraordinary love, his adopted family in Vietnam whom he visited as often as he could, his friends, his dog Sarge, the great outdoors, patriotism, helping people, and never missing an opportunity to tell his jokes to family, friends and strangers everywhere.

Tom is survived by his wife of 48 years, Jeannie Kilduff of Meeker; his daughter Kimberly (John) Symanksi of LaVernia, Texas; daughter Patricia (Brian) Merrifield of Meeker; daughter Kathy Kilduff of Grand Junction; grandsons Shawn Moody and Korbin Symanski of Converse, Texas; granddaughter Madisyn Symanksi of LaVernia, Texas; grandson Trapper Merrifield and granddaughter Aspen Merrifield of Meeker; and his grandsons Trentin and Landon Moomey of Grand Junction, as well as numerous nieces, nephews and great-nieces and great-nephews whom he loved dearly. He was preceded in death by his father Howard Kilduff, his mother Erma Kilduff, his brother James Kilduff, his sister Patricia Howard and his granddaughters Mariah and Miranda Moody. A celebration of life memorial will be held this summer and announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to in Tom’s honor, VFW Post 5843 290 4th St. Meeker, Colorado 81641, or AA of Western Colorado PO Box 1531 Grand Junction, Colorado, 81502.

Rest in Peace Marine, Semper Fi!

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