Thomas Watson Hood Jr. died at his home in Belton, Mo. on Oct. 27, 2023 after a prolonged heart-related illness. He was 85.
The son of Thomas and Cecelia Hood, Thomas was born in Barnstable on May 21, 1938. He grew up in Wellfleet and attended the Wellfleet Consolidated School, graduating in 1957 in a class of 12 students. The school opened in 1939 and closed in 1959.
As a boy, “his whole life was about fishing in the ponds,” said his sister, Cindy. “He loved Gull and Herring ponds especially.” He never lost his love of fishing. He also loved basketball, which he played for the Consolidated School team.
In January 1958, Thomas joined the Air Force, where he served proudly for 20 years, retiring with the rank of technical sergeant at 39. He worked in hydraulics and served in Japan. While stationed in Missouri, he met Ellen Saultz, whom he married. The couple settled in Missouri and remained after he left the Air Force. Ellen was one of 10 children, “so we had a large extended family in Missouri,” Cindy said.
Thomas worked as a hydraulics mechanic for 20 years and supplemented his income with a side business in fishing tackle. He would buy the inventory of failing tackle shops and sell it on eBay. His boyhood love of fishing became more than a hobby.
Truman Lake was Thomas’s favorite fishing spot in Missouri. “He loved springtime crappie fishing,” his nephew Dale Blankenship wrote in an online remembrance. “We would go Monday and come home Thursday night with a lot of fish. He would use a road runner and always got more than me.”
He loved to hunt as well, travelling to Montana and Idaho for big game including antelope, deer, elk, and mountain lions. “His living room walls,” Cindy said, “were covered with his hunting trophies. It was like a museum.”
Once when Cindy was visiting, she left her dog at the house when she went out on an excursion. “I was afraid,” she said with a chuckle, “that I would find my dog mounted on the wall when I got back.
“Thomas was also a big family man,” Cindy added. And he loved his Kansas City Chiefs and would go to the games whenever he could.
Thomas is survived by his wife of 63 years, Ellen R. (Saultz) Hood of Belton, Mo.; daughter and son-in-law Tammy and David; daughter and son-in-law Robin and Chuck, all of Belton; sister and brother-in-law Cynthia and Bob Cocivera of Wellfleet; brother and sister-in-law Fred and Barbara Simmons of Belton; sister-in-law Pat Saultz of Belton; many other in-laws, nieces, and nephews; and two special great-nieces, Sydney Keaton and Piper Rains of Belton.
Thomas was preceded in death by his parents, Thomas and Cecelia Hood, and by his sisters Margaret and Phyllis of Wellfleet.
A celebration of remembrance will be held on Saturday, Nov. 18 at 11 a.m. at McGilley & George Funeral Home, 611 Chestnut St., Belton. Military honors will follow.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the American Heart Association, P.O. Box 840692, Dallas, Texas 75284.
Expressions of sympathy may be shared at mcgilleygeorgebelton.com.