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Thomas Gordon Eakes

December 1, 1940 ~ June 15, 2019 (age 78)

THOMAS G. EAKES Thomas G. Eakes, 78, passed away June 15, 2019, after an eight-year battle against Lewy body disease, a progressive form of dementia and movement disorder related to Parkinson's disease. Tom, a visionary and a lifelong connector of people and ideas, was best known in Northern New Mexico for having led the team that in 2005 founded Music on the Hill at St. John's College. Each summer, the concert series brings thousands of Santa Feans to the liberal arts campus perched above the city. Of the many accolades he received throughout his disparate successful careers in business and art, he was most proud of being distinguished in 2012 as an honorary alumnus of St. John's College. Tom was born December 1, 1940, in Santa Monica, Calif., where his parents worked in the aviation industry. His early years were spent in Iowa, where both parents had roots, but when his father began to suffer from diabetes, the family moved west again. They settled in Phoenix, Ariz., and opened a diner. The oldest of three, Tom was 14 when his father died, and Tom's childhood was shaped by early responsibilities. At 16, he joined the Air Force, obtained his GED, and earned credits from Florida Southern College. His tour of duty took him to Texas, Florida, and Iceland, while he played clarinet and saxophone in the renowned Air Force Band and sent his earnings home to help his family in Phoenix. While in Iceland, he met and married his first wife, the mother of his two sons, Thor and Tom, Jr. Upon discharge, Tom moved his new family back to Phoenix and joined an insurance firm. President Lyndon Johnson had just launched the War on Poverty, in 1964, and Tom began working with the Pima Indians to insure tribal members under new social programs. This led to the establishment of his first independent insurance brokerage company and trusted relationships throughout North America. When he sold the company 1969, his connections with tribal leaders grew into devoted friendships. In 1970, Tom moved to San Diego, Calif., to lead the employee benefits division of RKC & Co, a firm he started with two partners. The firm, which established a niche in public service employee benefits, grew rapidly, with offices in San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. RKC & Co brokered insurance for a large portion of the state's public-school employees, as well as privately held companies, including Motown Records and the Pacific Stock Exchange. In 1985, Tom and his remaining partner sold the business to Corroon & Black, a publicly traded company that became the globally recognized Willis Towers Watson. Tom stayed with the company, traveling extensively to provide employee benefit leadership and advice on mergers and acquisitions. He retired in 1995, but not before embarking on a new career as an artist. Taking classes and studying with well-known artists as he traveled for business, Tom built his skills working in oils. He opened a studio in San Diego, first with other painters and then on his own. In 1980 he married Holly Bradshaw, and 17 years later the couple moved to Catalonia, Spain, for the Mediterranean light, culture, and community. From his studio in Sitges, near Barcelona, he created work for exhibits in Europe and the United States. Many of his paintings were portraits that illuminated the unique characteristics of the people he met and loved. Through all of Tom's travels, he always returned to Santa Fe, supporting and contributing to the Santa Fe Opera, the New Mexico Jazz Workshop, and other local arts organizations. When health issues obligated a move back to the U.S. in 2002, Tom and Holly chose Santa Fe as their home. Tom's art was carried by galleries on Canyon Road, in Santa Fe, and on Kit Carson Road, in Taos, N.M. When, in 2002, shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, businesses began struggling from lack of tourism, Tom and his wife started working with artists and gallery owners to expand art markets beyond city limits. The Holly Company (now, HollyCo Strategies) was officially launched in 2003. In addition to his ardent studio practice, Tom found creative expression through his work with startup businesses and philanthropic projects. As comfortable in an immigrant bar in Lisbon, Portugal, as he was at the Georges V in Paris, Tom thrived on building deep and lasting relationships. He was a voracious reader of books and an insightful reader of people. Tom leaves behind Holly Bradshaw-Eakes, his wife of 39 years; his oldest son, Thor Johann Eakes, and Thor's wife, Diane Durvis Eakes; younger son, Tom Eakes, Jr.; grandchildren Sophie Eakes and Andy Eakes; brother, Loren (Laurie) Eakes; sister, Rita Spencer; beloved nieces, nephews and in-laws; longtime business partner Jerry Kelly; and friends on every continent. A celebration of Tom's life will be held 5:30 pm Friday, June 28 at Casa Espa¤a at the Eldorado Hotel. In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made in his memory to St. John's College.

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