"A true and endearing friend"
"I expect to pass through this world but once.
Any good thing, therefore, that I can do, or any
kindness I can show to any fellow human being, let me do it now.
Let me not defer nor neglect it,
For I shall not pass this way again."
Today we lost the sweetest, kindest, most loving man in the world. TOMLIN, CALVIN A. (SONNY), of Bellmawr and Philadelphia, passed away February 19, 2021, at the age of 93. Devoted husband of the late Emma (née Strang). Predeceased by his loving mother Margaret (née Dougherty) and father Frank; by his brothers Joseph and William, and his sister Evelyn; and by his first grandchild Debra. Adored father of Gail (Patrick) Tomlin-Cooper; and Steven (Angela). Proud grandfather of Steven, Eric, Emilie, Madison, and Jakob. Also survived by his sister-in-law Sara Devine, his daughter-in-law Debra Tomlin, and a very large extended family.
He is especially missed by his "Pal and #1 Best Friend for 87+ years", Bill Ward, whom he loved dearly.
For those wishing to say good-bye to Sonny, a viewing will be held on Saturday, February 27, from 8:30 to 10:30 AM at Gardner Funeral Home, Runnemede, NJ.
For your safety, current requirements for masks and social distancing will be enforced. Those choosing to gather, please do so outside.
In lieu of flowers, the family prefers donations made to:
*The Scleroderma Foundation
*American Cancer Society
*American Heart Association
*Animal rescue organizations or shelters
Interment private. A celebration of Sonny's life will take place at a safer time.
In these Covid confined times, our ability to gather and share our memories is inhibited. As such, we encourage family and friends to share their favorite memories and stories below until such time as we can all gather safely and celebrate Sonny's life in-person.
"A true and endearing friend"
"Uncle Sonny was without a doubt one of the nicest, most caring people I have ever met. I could count on hearing from him on my birthday to wish me well & getting brought up to date on what was going on in life. He was so easy to talk to & was always interested in what was going on in all of our lives. He wasn?t timid about getting on my case if need be either. He chewed me out at our last cousins party because of my weight gain. I know it was because he cared & worried about my health. I visited with him last fall & was anxious for him to see that I took his admonishment to heart & did indeed lose a considerable amount of weight. He was proud of my efforts & I was proud that he was proud. He was that way with all of us cousins & we all loved him so very much. Gonna miss you a bunch Uncle Sonny but when you arrive topside, please give my love to my Mom & Jeanne & let them know that I am behaving down here. Jeanne probably won?t believe you but my Mom will believe it if YOU tell her so. Give Aunt Emma & all my aunts & uncles up there a kiss from me. Love, Bobby Strang"
"Uncle Sonny, your smile and laughter are the best. I i remember a lot of great times sitting around your kitchen table celebrating your birthday and making memories. You are missed. Love Betsy"
"I will remember Mr. Tomlin as a warm and cheerful person (and he was always Mr. Tomlin or Mr. T. to me because I met him when I was 6 years old when Gail & I became friends in 1st grade). Actually, while growing up he was like my 2nd dad and I grew to love him like a father. But what?s funny is that I don?t remember him ever disciplining us ? I just remember him as being pleasant and loving. Even after I moved from Philly, many times when I would call Gail, Mr. Tomlin would answer and we?d have a wonderful conversation and he would always be thoughtful and ask about my husband and family. We will always remember and love Mr. T.! "
"To Gail, Emilie and Pat, my deepest heartfelt sympathy to you! Cal was always a classy gentleman, a kind person who liked to laugh, loved his family and can also be a jokster at times. He left a great impression of love and compassion on all of us and will be greatly missed! I was so blessed to be a small part of his life! Love you always, Cal!"
"Do you know if we?re lucky enough in life, God places individuals that are so special you don?t even realize they?re there. Until they speak. About 40 years ago a newly married couple jack and Karen purchased a home on Moyamensing Ave. after living there for a period of time they decided they were going to make renovations to their home to change the home to their own personal likings, I?m sure after consideration and probably weighing out the immense cost they realize the only way to get this done was by bringing in the real band of Brothers. This was a group of ragtag friends from early on in life and even then they were joined by the hip through marriages to the women who were the real generals and bosses in the family. The irony of it is that the men truly believe they were in charge little did they know that they moved according to the music of their wives. The man included John known to me as dad, Jim known as uncle Jim, there was Bill known to us his uncle Bill and then there was Calvin known to us as uncle Sonny which was confusing at the time and then there was Grandpop John Senior . I can still remember those days working and Hearing my father tell my Grandfather, Dad I know what I?m doing will you please just let me be ,they were like a Martin and Lewis skit this went on whenever they worked together usually in someone else?s home one would point out what needed to be done and the other one would ignore him and do it just the way they had chosen to do it anyway. Back the uncle Sonny first you know , honestly it took Me until I was about 17 years of age to realize that Calvin was actually uncle Sonny you see I thought Calvin was just another Uncle that I had never seen before since there is so many of us scattered across Pennsylvania and New Jersey I just believe they were two separate person why would someone call a person Sonny when There real name is Calvin you know I should?ve realize that my whole life I was confused since there was another Sonny in my life and his name happened to be Michael that?s another story in its self. I believe that parents called their children other names just to confuse the rest of the kids and believe me I was confused. I can remember the Saturday morning that all of the young cousins gathered together in the living room of Jack and Karen?s as the Uncle?s came marching in with their tool bags saws nails and of course their coolers , not for food. We were all there to start the construction and deconstruction of there home everything began by tearing things down it was the job of the cousins just to clean up very seldom were we ever given a task that included using a power tool, a hammer , a nail that was left to the Uncle?s we were there as a cleanup patrol as time went on the job also lingered most of this was done since Jack and Kara decided how they wanted things to be but we?re consistently overruled by the Band of Brothers you see it didn?t matter how you wanted the job to be it was how the uncles wanted it to turn out I know I?ve experienced it in my own house. One late afternoon on a hot Saturday and I heard someone calling Michael, Michael, Michael each time the call got louder till I turned and realize uncle Sonny was calling me over to assist him in framing out a closet I was stunned to believe that they needed my assistance normally I was on trash patrol so I yelled out , I said Ya Unc what do you need ,do you need another Schlitz or it may have been a Shaffers beer , you see uncle Sonny did things by the beat of a different drum he didn?t drink the normal Schmitts or Piels like the rest of them as a matter fact I remember he smoked at the time L& M cigarettes I think he was the only person in Philadelphia that smoked them none of the other uncles that smoked would even think about smoking and L&Ms rather like Jimmy Devine he smoked Pall Mall 100 Let them the ask get 3 inches long and not fall off onto the table. To my surprise uncle Sonny was asking for assistance he told me what to get he taught me how to read a ruler differently he showed me how you can stretch a ruler, strange as that may sound it does work he gave me a hammer and nails he taught me what an eighth of an inch really look like explain to me that the door jam should always have a header above it and show me many things during that build , but the important thing was that he took the time to explain it to me he didn?t tell me he explained it he showed me he nurtured me and taught me many things . Some 40 years later while building a deck for my daughter around her swimming pool I remembered what uncle Sonny had taught me some of the little tricks that most of the young people don?t know about but the members of the band the brothers knew how to circumvent And adjust to any circumstance I remember as the deck was going up I decided to send Gail pictures so that she can relay them on the Uncle Sonny , partly to show him that I still remembered and partly to see if he thought I was doing the right things Gail would send back responses , dad loves it looks good and when the job was completed I called and spoke with uncle Sonny about the deck we spoke about how I constructed it what I used Joe enjoyed the fact that I built my own stringers and I remembered and reminded him that he taught me how to lay them out he told me that I did a great job so much so he said when are you going to come back to New Jersey and fix my steps on the back of the house we had a good laugh . You see Calvin Tomlin was an individual that taught others not by just showing , but by example he taught individuals to have pride in what they did, how to love for his devotion to his family his children his grandchildren and his Emma go unmatched Unc taught me more than he ever knew he taught me how to stand up for honor he taught me to always believe in other people he taught me to never throw away any person to the curb and that family true family is forever , He showed me these things even from a distance because there comes a time if you?re fortunate enough in your life , God places, A person of humility and a person of grace in your life I was that lucky person and I thank God for the kindness of Uncle Calvin Sonny Tomlin , He will always be in my Heart , just like the rest of The Band of Brothers Love Ya Unc, Michael-- Michael Noreski CPSS, CESP, CAMH, CIT "
"Everybody deserves "an Uncle Sonny" in life... many of us, in our big family, were lucky enough to have him as our own! A role model of a perfect gentleman with the kindest heart. I will miss his calls to me on my birthday where he would cheerfully begin with, "Hi, doll, it's Uncle Sonny" followed by a rendition of "Happy Birthday" that was second to none. I hope he believed me when I told him how much those calls meant to me. Despite being well into adulthood, his calls always made me feel like a kid again - happy, carefree, and surrounded by a cherished male role model who I am grateful to have had as my uncle. We'll miss you, Uncle Sonny, but have no doubt the angels lead you straight to Heaven! ? "
"Where do I begin- going to miss my "pal" and best friend of 87 years. We never had an argument. We met in kindergarten and became best friends. Through the years we had so many memories such as going to summer camp at Browns Mills, NJ. Camp was so much fun. A few years ago we went to visit our childhood summer camp and found that it was no longer there. We wondered around the property and landed onto the restricted area of Ft. Dix. We escaped trespassing charges!!!!! I can see us running now!!!! Our only separation during our 87 years of friendship was when Sonny went into the Army and I went into the Navy. We were also members of the Cherokee Indian club. Sonny was so proud of this that he had shirts made for us to celebrate 70+years of being members. We also enjoyed many, many years of great times with our wives, Emma and Margie. way too many memories to post! In recent years we enjoyed our time together and would often go to Sonny's favorite lunch spot, The Club Diner and as always he ordered the same thing, cheeseburger deluxe! Going to miss you so much! Love your best friend, Bill"
"No matter how old we get, it?s never easy to lose a parent/grandparent. My thoughts and prayers are with you at this difficult time. With deepest, heartfelt sympathy."
"A friend recently expressed her hope that Pop had lived a "solid life". While I initially thought that an odd turn of phrase, I quickly realized it was very fitting. "Pop", "Sonny", and my personal favorite ," Mr. T." was a bedrock. ( It's not hard to see where Gail gets her strength). Family was always important to him, and the many friendships he shared. Not to be missed was one of his legendary birthday parties. I shall always remember his warm smile and chuckle. Our heartfelt condolences go out to the surviving family members, especially Gail, Patrick and Emilie. You three were warriors those last years, ensuring Pop was well taken care of. You have much to be proud of, once all is said and done. Suffice to say, may you revel in your fond memories, and know that you are in so many loving thoughts and prayers. Jim Hughes & Ken Doran"
"As a young girl I was not always crazy about Sonny , his wit seemed to escape my simple mind , as I grew older , I started to get the things he said and realized that he was so very quick witted and funny ! As an Adult I adored him , he was kind and loving and as someone else stated always smiling . Though he lived in his later years in a lot of pain he was always quick to help wherever he could . I remember Gail telling me he was gardening at the house and that included moving bricks of some sort , I was like WHAT ? He was I think about 90 at the time .Amazeballs , MY SISTER carol was a special favorite of his ! They were always seated together at family functions and if there was music he and she would tear up the dance floor , I think when she passed away he was incredibly sad . She had been his date for quite a few years lol. To say I shall miss him is an understatement ! My heart goes out to Pat and Emilie , but most especially Gail ! No one else will have their daily life forever changed by his passing ! her father was such a huge part of her daily life and routine and I believe she will struggle the most from the missing of this lovely man! God Bless all of you as you each deal with the longing and the grief , and Godspeed to Sonny ! Hopefully he?s reunited with the love of his life Emma and his Siblings ! Sending love to all of the people who loved him best ??????"
"My heartfelt sympathy to Steven, Gail, and all of Cal?s AKA ?Pop? extended family and friends. Mr. Tomlin is my dear friends? father, and any time that I had the pleasure to cross paths with him, he always had big warm smile, a friendly handshake, and soft-spoken kind word. He is one of those people that it was just a pleasure to be around. "
"I am very sorry for your loss of Sonny. "
"Sonny was a special person and his contributions to St. Alphonsus & his participation in the Cherokee Club are tributes to his memory. ?? Jacqueline & Jerry Seaman"
"My deepest sympathy to all of Cal's family. I've been friends with Cal since the 80's when he started working with me at North American Publishing Company. We became friends instantly. One of the nicest people you would ever want to meet and be friends with. When Cal retired we still remained friends. I will never forget when my Mom passed away in 1988 I was carried out of work when I got the phone call about my Mom. Cal got a cab and took me right to my Mom's house. I would always tell him that I never forgot what he did for me. Just a true caring person. Cal will definitely be missed. "