February 22, 1933 to May 12, 2017
With bravery, 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 experience every day.
Tom was born in San Francisco, California 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, California in the cottage his grandfather had built in the 1800s later moving to San Rafael with his family. During his high school years, he was student body president, Eagle Scout, varsity swimmer, and became an avid backpacker in the Sierras. After marrying, Tom built his first home in San Anselmo, California where the couple raised their two children. He later settled in Mill Valley, California 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 in a business partner early on, and Cagwin and Dorward Landscape Contractors was born. His first employees were friends and Danes and as the company grew, so did the name. For over 40 years, Tom presided over his company with fairness, skill and competence. 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.
Tom loved the great outdoors, the wild places. He was very proud of his great uncle, Hamden Eldorado Cagwin, Hermit of Echo Lake. A small lake in the Sierras bears his name. Throughout his life, Tom backpacked throughout the Sierras and climbed as many mountains as he could in California, Oregon and Washington, including the South Summit of Mt. McKinley in 1969. No one could carry a pack, walk as fast, set up camp, light a fire or have fun like Tom.
Tom had a wonderful sense of style and history, a love of finishing antiques to their former beauty, an ability to create a beautiful home and garden, and was always the ultimate host. Tom was well traveled developing lasting friendships worldwide. He especially enjoyed small island life, being a resident of Haleiwa, Hawaii for 30 years, of Piha, New Zealand for 12 years and of Friday Harbor, Washington for 23 years.
Tom is survived by his son, Jonathan Cagwin of San Anselmo, California, his daughter Lori Cagwin and grandson Shaun Leavy of Yountville, California, 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 close friends are invited to celebrate Tom’s remarkable life at the small church his grandparents founded in 1901. The service will begin at 1 p.m., June 16 at Holy Innocents Episcopal Church, 2 Tamalpais Dr., Corte Madera, California with reception immediately following. Tom will be buried at Mount Tamalpais Cemetery, with his father and grandparents.
A celebration of life for his Friday Harbor friends will be organized by Friday Harbor friends and family. Date and location pending.