Thomas “Tom” Bernard Heatherington, 68, died peacefully with family at his side at The HealthCenter in Kalispell on June 15, 2019, after being diagnosed with metastatic cancer on May 23.
Born in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, Tom was the third of four children born to parents Rita Mae Morrow Heatherington and Robert Vincent Heatherington. Tom grew up in Pennsylvania surrounded by his large Irish Catholic family and in spite of losing his father at the age of 12, Tom once wrote, “My childhood was like a TV commercial for life in America in the 1950s; it was literally ‘Ozzie and Harriet.’ Life was happy, exciting and adventurous; I spent my summers glued to my bicycle seat and going to the pool, local creeks to fish or visiting friends.”
Although never fond of attending school, Tom graduated from Gateway Senior High School in 1969 and eight months later joined the U.S. Navy. During his four-year enlistment, Tom served a 14- month tour aboard the USS Saratoga in the Tonkin Gulf off the coast of Vietnam. After serving his country, Tom settled in Virginia and married Mary Margaret Murray in 1975. Although they later divorced, Tom and Margaret had two daughters, Christine Erin and Patricia Lynn.
In 1986, Tom relocated to Dallas to accept a job promotion with NMI Corporation, a sales subsidiary of NEC America. It was at NEC that Tom met his wife Lori. In 1992, Tom and Lori were married and Tom became stepdad to Lori’s daughter, Lexie. Tom and Lori would have celebrated their 27th wedding anniversary this October.
Blessed with a sharp mind, quick wit and the gift of gab, Tom enjoyed a 43-year career in wireless communications that led him to become a pioneer in the internet industry and a published author. In 1993, Tom co-founded PicNet, one of America’s first ISPs in Dallas, and years later, co-authored “The Complete Small Business Internet Guide” and authored Kindle ebooks, “SEO & Social Media Marketing Guide” and “Kindle, How to Publish, Promote & Profit.”
In 2002, Tom, Lori and Lexie moved from Texas to Montana where Tom spent the remainder of his career consulting with small businesses to help them establish and maintain an online presence. He was instrumental in launching Flathead Valley’s “Buy Local” campaign in 2009 and was the webmaster owner of Flathead Guide, an online business directory.
When not working, Tom loved to spend time with his family, watch TV with his canine companion Bernie, post wildlife photos on Facebook and visit Glacier National Park. He was a proud patriot, member of the American Legion, an avid reader and enjoyed boating on Flathead Lake. Tom was a master craftsman with the talent to repair or build anything and often posted “How to” videos on YouTube.
Tom was preceded in death by his parents, father Robert Vincent Heatherington and mother Rita Mae Morrow Heatherington; and younger brother, Mark Vincent Heatherington.
Tom was dearly loved by his family and his presence is greatly missed.
He is survived by his wife, Lori Heatherington; daughters, Christine Heatherington, Patricia Heatherington and Lexie McFarland; brother, Robert Gerald Heatherington and wife Fran; sister, Patricia Rita Robertson and husband Richard; uncle, D. James Heatherington and wife Suzanne; nephew and part-time son, Robert Patrick Heatherington; countless cousins, nephews, nieces, friends and his four-legged buddy, Bernie.
There will be a celebration of life service honoring Tom at 3 p.m. on July 12 at Buffalo Hill Funeral Home & Crematory.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the North West Montana Veterans Stand Down & Food Pantry or the Humane Society of Northwest Montana.
Tom’s family would like to thank the medical staff at the Veterans Clinic of Kalispell, Kalispell Regional Medical Center, Northwest Oncology & Hematology, the Comfort Care team at The HealthCenter, the emergency responders with West Valley Fire & Rescue and the team at Buffalo Hill Funeral Home & Crematory for their professional care and kindness.
Friends are encouraged to visit the website www.buffalohillfh.com to leave notes of condolence for the family. Buffalo Hill Funeral Home and Crematory is caring for the family.