Father, daughter killed in Fox Island fire shared gusto for life

Tacoma News TribuneDecember 16, 2013 

Loved ones remembered Tom Babson on Monday as adventurous, inquisitive and opinionated.

They used the same words to eulogize his 8-year-old daughter, Alice (Allie). She was her daddy’s girl, through and through.

Babson’s brother John told those gathered at the pair’s memorial service at Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church in Gig Harbor that had Tom been there, he would have used his encyclopedic knowledge to tell everyone about the origins of the word "eulogy" (Greek for “good words").

There were lots of those shared for the 62-year-old and his daughter, who both died in a fire Dec. 4 at their Fox Island home. Babson’s wife June, 12-year-old daughter Katie and son Tobey (Allie’s twin) survived the fire.

Cause of the blaze is still being investigated, but officials have said it was an accident.

Many public safety personnel, including Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor, attended and took part in the service. In addition to being an emergency room doctor, Babson was a reserve sheriff’s deputy.

“Humility and strength -- these are two things I saw and I think we all saw in Tom Babson,” Pastor said at the service, which included a rifle volley and presentation of the colors.

“You’re amazing, you’re a deeply good man, and we owe you,” the sheriff said. “We will remember you.”

John Babson said that with the death of his brother he lost a life-long debating partner.

“To be around Tom was to be on an adventure,” he said. “Retirement was a word that was not in his vocabulary.”

Katie, he said, was always the ultimate older sister, holding and pulling Allie by the hand until the last moment they were separated by the fire.

Allie was “full of dreams and readily shared them,” he said.

Victoria McDonald, the girl's teacher, said anyone who met the girl remembered her gusto. She loved chickens, and in first grade wanted to be called “chicken girl.” By third grade, she had become disciplined in her studies.

“For your information, I am not like this at home,” McDonald remembered her saying.

Allie’s class at St. Nicholas Catholic School brought gifts for her. A giant panda teddy bear and flowers decorated the front of the church.

The last story Allie wrote in class was about three superhero dogs doing good. Family friend Dr. Jeffrey Morse said Allie loved animals, adding it might never be known whether she died trying to save her own beloved dog from the fire.

Morse said Babson and others had lots of nicknames for the kids. The twins were “the peanuts” when they were little. The whole gang was “the squirrels.” And then there was “Tornado Allie.”

Morse also spoke of Babson’s adventures, many of which they shared during their 19 years as friends.

One of the first things Babson said to him when they started working together and met was: “See you in three weeks, I’m going on a safari with Joe.”

That would be Joe Meyers. The first day he and Babson met as young captains at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii, they ended up closing down the bar after work. Ten Heinekens later, they were friends -- and have been for 40 years.

He was “all in, all the time,” Meyers remembered.

Babson had many best friends, Meyers said, and a “liberal measure of laughter – and by the way, that was about the only thing he was liberal about.”

He also never let the truth get in the way of a good story, Meyers said. A photo and video montage at the funeral supported that. Babson, fishing, tells the camera his catch must be “50, 60, 70 pounds.” And “Allie, this is how you fish.”

Allie is seen in images jumping on a trampoline and running on a beach. She hugs her twin brother and the rest of her loved ones.

Family friend Beau Bouthiller visited the Babson family throughout the years, he said.

One day, as Bouthiller was testing his blood sugar levels to manage his diabetes, Allie looked him square in the eyes and asked: “Is it time for the project?”

Told it was, she asked whether she could do it for him. He let her prick his finger and run the test. It became a routine for them.

Glucose tests won’t ever again be “the exciting, fun-filled project” it was with Allie, Bouthiller said.

When she’d help, Dad often would be watching from the corner, "just bursting with pride.”

Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268 alexis.krell@ thenewstribune.com www.thenewstribune.com/crime-news @amkrell

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