Thursday, April 25, 2024

Col. Thomas C. Hankins, Ret., 67

| December 22, 2020 1:00 AM

Thomas Hankins passed away peacefully on Dec. 14, 2020, at his home after a lengthy struggle with ALS. He was an incredible husband, father, physician, Air Force officer and patriot, and will be dearly missed.

Thomas C. Hankins was born in Alexandria, La., on June 14, 1953, to George and Virginia (Lotts) Hankins, the second of what would be six children. He grew up and graduated from Beavercreek High School in Beavercreek, Ohio, during which time he joined the Boy Scouts, eventually achieving the highest rank of Eagle Scout, an accomplishment he would be proud of his entire life.

Tom went on to complete Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Biology at Wright State University in 1976. He attended the Medical College of Ohio in Toledo, and earned his MD in 1979. He opted to complete a year of flexible internship at Mercy Hospital while still in Toledo, and it was there that he met his future wife. Tom married Barbara Weiss on Sept. 5, 1981, in Frankenmuth, Mich.

Tom and Barb enjoyed their time in Winston-Salem, N.C., where Tom completed his residency in emergency medicine at Bowman Gray School of Medicine and Barb worked as a pediatric RN.

Tom joined Idaho Emergency Physicians in 1983, moving the couple to Boise, Idaho. They loved Idaho, enjoying the Sawtooth Mountains and exploring the area in their first ever new vehicle; a Ford Bronco. Tom began his military career by joining the Idaho Air National Guard in 1986 and served as a flight surgeon with the 124 TAC Recon group, enjoying many temporary duty deployments — notably to Alaska and Australia. He also managed to obtain his private pilot’s license while chairing the Department of Emergency Medicine at St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center.

In 1989 the family, which now included two young sons, moved to Dayton, Ohio, where Tom finished a residency in aerospace medicine at Wright State University School of Medicine, bringing him full circle back to his boyhood home of Beavercreek. Here, a third son was born to complete their family. During this time Tom had continued in the Air Force Reserves and in 1991, he entered Active Duty Air Force and served at Wright Patterson AFB until 1994.

Tom’s next assignment was to Whiteman AFB, in Warrensburg, Mo., where he was Commander of Aerospace Medicine Squadron, 509th MDG, until 1997. The B2 Stealth Bomber flew out of Whitman and it was always awe-inspiring to see it in flight.

Tom continued his military career at Beale AFB in California, from 1998-2006, serving as Chief of Aerospace Medicine and then as Commander of the Physiological Support Squadron. He was an expert on the effects of high-altitude flight and working with the U2 pilots in the altitude chamber and making sure their flight suits were fully functioning was one of his most satisfying assignments.

Tom received many awards, Medals, and Honors during his military duty, too numerous to list. He ultimately retired as a Colonel, a culmination of exemplary military service.

After his military retirement in 2006, Tom worked as a primary care physician for Sutter Medical Group, where his patients valued his experience, knowledge and wit.

Tom and Barb moved to Hayden, Idaho, in 2014 and he worked part time at Kootenai Urgent Care until speech issues, eventually diagnosed as Bulbar ALS, forced him to retire.

Throughout his life Tom maintained a love of learning and enjoyed a wide variety of activities, including tennis, cycling, shooting and hiking with his sons and later riding his Harley, playing his trumpet and training his German shepherd dog, Saber. His devotion to family was always evident. Tom was a member of Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Rathdrum, Idaho.

Tom is survived by his wife of 39 years, Barbara (Weiss) Hankins of Hayden; three sons: Alexander Hankins of Sacramento, Calif., Eric Hankins of Hayden, and SSgt. Christopher (Britnee) Hankins; twin grandsons, Anthony and Charlie, all of Las Vegas; siblings, Jeffery (Jean) Hankins of Houston, Rebecca Hankins of Orangevale, Calif., Wren (Rick) Buxton of S. Lake Tahoe, Calif., Douglas Hankins of Stockton, Calif., and Juli Hankins of Stockton, and several nieces and nephews.

Those wishing to make an expression of Sympathy may wish to consider Disabled American Veterans, Answer ALS or a charity of their choice.

The family is planning a memorial service for later in the spring of 2021.

Yates Funeral Home has been entrusted with the final arrangements. Please visit Thomas’s online memorial and sign his guestbook at