News blog for Seattle's Fremont neighborhood


Celebration of Tom McGrann’s life

May 28th, 2010 by master

On April 27, Tom McGrann woke up at 4 a.m. and made coffee for him and his live-in partner, Kim Murray. He did laundry and then, as he was about to leave their Fremont condo for the airport, he said goodbye to all of his girls (Murray, 2 dogs and 2 cats) and that he was going to miss his little family.

Murray told him, have fun, have a great time. He was about to spend a week in sunny southern California, pet-sitting for one of his longtime landscaping clients and friends.

That night, McGrann didn’t call.

He was struck and killed by a commuter train in Del Mar, Calif. He was 42.

A Celebration of Thomas “Tom” Patrick McGrann’s life will take place tomorrow, May 29, at Brouwer’s Café (400 N. 35th St.) from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Those who knew McGrann and want to honor him by attending can e-mail to RSVP.

By many accounts, he lived a full life.

Besides Murray, 43, the love of McGrann’s life was obvious to those who knew him: animals. He was the guy who took long walks, first with his dog Lucy (who he rescued from an abusive owner and carried in a wagon when she couldn’t walk for about a year); then with Murray’s two dogs, Kylie (aka K-bear) and Josie (aka Monkey Petersen – McGrann had a penchant for nicknames). Utah native Murray even has a doctorate degree in wildlife biology. McGrann grew up with cats and included in his merged family with Murray were two cats, Mother and Ruby. The former vet tech often took in strays and animals that needed extra help.

He loved animals so much, he didn’t think twice of flying down to Del Mar to help out Judith Gilliland, who met him when he was a foreman working on her North Beach yard. (She and her husband live part time in California, part time in Seattle.) She parted ways with the company that employed McGrann, but kept him on.

Working side-by-side year after year on the yard, they became friends.

“He was a really interesting combination of tough ex-Marine and a soft and sensitive plants and animal lover,” she said. “He was a walking conundrum.”

Tough might be an understatement. His younger brother, Mark, who works for a bio-pharmaceutical company and lives in Redmond, said his brother was an avid scuba diver who jumped into the saltwater side of the Locks when the Seahawks lost to the Packers in the playoffs a few years ago, and swam several hundred yards in nothing but his boxers.

His big brother, he recalls, received his full skiing certification as a teenager, and a ski instructor at Crystal Mountain. The two brothers had often made roundtrips between their childhood home in Port Angeles and Stevens Pass to ski. In Arizona, where their parents moved years later, the two had a memorable moment. “There were not a lot of good skiers, so we were jumping off these little cliffs, underneath the lift chairs, and everyone on the chairs was laughing and applauding. It was weird after being in Washington, getting standing ovations.”

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