February 14, 2021, Thomas D. McMahon, Esq. left this world in loving
family embrace. He died at home in his cherished community of Shelter
Cove, where he resided for 35
Born in New York June 19, 1925, to a multi-generational family of NYPD officers. In 1942, as a 16-year-old Xavier High School student, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. He was posted to the 8nd Air Force 369th Squadron 306th Heavy Bombardment Group and started flying missions from Thurleigh, England, as an aircrew tailgunner on B-17 aircraft. Returning home from WWII service a decorated combat veteran, he joined the FDNY working Rescue One. He married and started a family in New York while furthering his education. He graduated from New York Law School and obtained several teaching credentials.
Having been introduced to California during the war, the athletic swimmer and former lifeguard moved the family, now grown to six children, west to Southern California in the early 60s. He planned to teach and was determined to learn what surfing was all about.
He taught elementary students to Marine Corps enlistees and chartered a surf club, before moving north in the late 70s, when he found Shelter Cove. He never wanted to be far from the ocean and thought it the perfect place. It was rugged but he was ready and drawn to the isolation of the coast. He enjoyed grabbing waves and swapping surf lore with surfers at the ramp who were at first a few but now are many.
Settling in at Shelter Cove he added three more children to his family and found much solace by getting back in touch with his Catholic faith through the sisters at the Redwoods Monastery, whom he considered family. Often he could be seen, face to wind, motoring his trike out to the monastery or to town, which he did for the last time in September.
Joining VFW Post 6354 was a gift to his spirit as a result of the support he received and was able to give back to fellow veterans. It really made an impact on him. Throughout his time in SoHum he embraced many people from all walks of life and always said he had an “affinity for the underdog.”
He is survived by his wife of 35 years, Kathryn McMahon, and their children, Benson D. McMahon (Aleks) of Shelter Cove and Molly K. McMahon (Matt) of Benbow; a son, James M. McMahon (Carrie) of Briceland; his children from his first marriage, Thomas P. McMahon (Barb) of Eureka, Stephen F. McMahon (Carol) of Kingman, Ariz., Joseph X. McMahon (Tracey) of Carlsbad. Calif., Cecilia A. Sawyer (Terry) of Carlsbad, and Annette M. Downey (Mike) of Fortuna; his twin sister Andrea M. McCabe of Mesa, Ariz.; and 21 grandchildren – locally, Jennifer McMahon (Jason) of Eureka, Ian McMahon (Angela) of Ferndale, Nathan Downey (Dallass) of Eureka, Nicholas Downey (Evelyn) of Fortuna, Rebekah Mull (Cameron) of Fortuna, Johanna Downey of Fortuna, Wesley Downey (Shanelle) of Fort Bragg, NC, Seth Downey of Fortuna, Patrick and Thomas McMahon of Rio Dell, 36 great-grandchildren and eight nieces and nephews.
He is preceded in death by his parents, James J. McMahon and Adelaide J. McMahon; a brother James H. McMahon; former wife Winifred N. McMahon and a daughter Yvonne A. McMahon.
To any that wish to honor his memory please support the preservation of the John Haynes Memorial Veterans Hall; VFW Post 6354, Box 133, Garberville , 95542, with letters or donations, or Redwoods Monastery, www.redwoodsabbey.org. A memorial service will be held on Memorial Day 2021 at Mal Coombs park in Shelter Cove commencing at 1 pm.
The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Thomas McMahon’s loved ones. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here.