We are so saddened to hear of the passing of our beloved long-time Board member Tom Stemnock, who passed away October 2, 2019, after a 6 year battle with kidney cancer. Tom was an extraordinarily kind, empathetic, and talented individual whose absence will be sorely felt, and whose impact on Homes 4 Families as an organization and the people we serve will live on.
Tom grew up in South Bend, Ind. and received his BS in Civil Engineering from the University of Detroit Mercy and his Master of Science in Civil Engineering with a concentration in Urban Planning from Purdue University. Upon graduation, Tom moved to Los Angeles where he was employed by the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering during which time he received his Registered Civil Engineer license. In 1967, he transferred to the Department of City Planning where he worked on the development of the City’s long-range Citywide plans and the General Plan. He was promoted to Deputy Advisory Agency and was responsible for the approval of all subdivisions and parcel maps within the City. In 1977, he became an Associate Zoning Administrator responsible for approval/disapproval of variances and conditional uses for the City. He truly enjoyed working at the City and felt that he gained much experience that he could not get elsewhere.
In 1978, Tom retired from the City and became a partner at ETI, a private land-use consulting firm and civil engineering company. In 1994, Tom and Dwight Steinert established Planning Associates, Inc. which provided professional land use consulting services, environmental planning, zoning entitlements for commercial, industrial and residential projects throughout the City and civil engineering services. Throughout his 54 years in his profession, he enjoyed the challenges of his work and many friendships. He continued to work full time until his passing.
He served on numerous boards, committees and professional organizations including the American Society of Civil Engineers of which he was the recipient of the ASCE Harland Bartholomew Award presented to the Urban Planner of the Year. He was also a member of the Institute of Transportation Engineers, the American Planning Association, Lambda Alpha International, Chi Epsilon, an honorary engineering fraternity, and the Retired Los Angeles City Employees Association which he served on since 1996.
Tom had a deep commitment to serving the community, especially those in need and he was passionate about helping others. In 1982, he was a founding board member of the Arroyo Vista Family Health Foundation which provides comprehensive health care to low-income families and the uninsured who otherwise would not have access to quality health care. Throughout his 37 years on the Board, he served as President, Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary as well as serving on various committees. Arroyo Vista has grown from one storefront clinic in Highland Park serving 5,000 patients to four community health centers serving over 90,000 in the Northeast Los Angeles area. In 2016, he was the first honoree to receive the Arroyo Vista Compassionate Care Award.
In 2005, he joined Homes 4 Families Board (formerly Habitat for Humanity SF/SCV) which has built or renovated over 385 homes for low-income families and veterans. He served as Secretary and using his expertise served on the Construction and Acquisition Committees to help secure sites for the building of homes. He was honored at the 2018 Hearts for Heroes Builder’s Ball for his contributions and commitment to Homes 4 Families.
Tom was a devout Catholic and throughout the years wholeheartedly served St. Richard Catholic Church in Borrego Springs in various capacities from ushering, volunteering, fundraising, serving on various committees and helping those in need find housing.
Tom is survived by his wife Christine of 47 yrs., son Jeffrey, daughter-in-law Ginger, his precious granddaughter Felix Anne-Marie and his sister Kathleen Brown of Virginia. Tom was predeceased by his step-son Philip, parents John and Anne Stemnock and his sister Suzanne.
He will always be remembered for his love of his family, a kind soul, an eternal optimist, a dear friend, mentor, Dodger fan and his love for the outdoors especially the desert.
In addition to Arroyo Vista Family Health Center and St. Richard Catholic Church, the family requests that donations in his memory may be made to Homes 4 Families.