Thomas A. Curlee, 84 passed away on Wednesday, May 17 at Union General Hospital after an extended illness. He was of the Baptist faith. Born in Spencer North Carolina on December 27, 1938.
He excelled in sports and was even scouted as a pitcher for the Cleveland Indians MLG Baseball team.
He joined the US Air Force in 1956 entering the field of Aircraft Maintenance. When he became a Master Crew Chief on F-84, F-100, and F-4 Aircraft. At one point, he became the youngest Master Sergeant in the Air Force on March 1, 1968. Serving two tours in Thailand during the Vietnam War, Tom participated in "Operation Bolo" on January 2, 1967. considered to be one of the biggest Air Combat ruses in Military Aviation history. Tom retired from the Air Force on March 31, 1976, at the rank of Master Sergeant (E-7).
He had a love of racing and he built and drove his own race car for almost 10 years and at one point held a Nascar license.
Tom operated an automotive garage in Murphy, NC until finally retiring for good in 2002.
He is preceded in death by his beloved wife of 25 years Mrs. June Curlee, his Father, Van, and step-mother Margarete Curlee of Melbourne FL; brother Bill Curlee of Columbus, GA, and half-brother Tyson Beaver of Rowan County NC., daughter Leslie Curlee Cloud of Glenmora, LA. Surviving are grandchildren David Cloud of Glenmora, LA, and Michael Blackbourn of Houston, TX. Aunts Brenda Nixon of FL; Patsy Thurmon of Easley, SC; Lisa Lawson of Statesville, NC; Michael Curlee of Salisbury; Mary Cathern Schenk of Cleveland, NC; son Dean and Doreen Curlee of Murphy; John Crain of Murphy and Sawyer Crain of Ft. Bragg, NC. His infectious smile and laugh, his willingness to help others will be missed by those who loved him dearly.
Funeral services will be held Thursday, May 25, 2023, at Salisbury National Cemetery with a full military burial performed.
Cochran Funeral Homes are honored to serve the family of Mr. Thomas Albert Curlee; send condolences and sign the guest register online at www.cochranfuneralhomes.com