Thomas M. Wenham Death – Thomas M. Wenham, a longtime member of the Wellington community, passed away on December 29, 2022, at the age of 90. On January 5, a memorial service was performed at the Palms West Funeral Home, and afterwards the deceased was buried at the South Florida National Cemetery with all of the appropriate military rites. Wenham made several contributions to the Wellington community, but he is most recognized for becoming the town’s first elected mayor. He also founded and served as commander of Wellington’s American Legion Post 390 and as head of the Wellington Community Foundation.
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“Tom Wenham had a deep love for his country, for his community, and especially for his sweetheart of 70 years, Regis,” said longtime friend Mickey Smith, who spoke at Wenham’s memorial service. “In turn, Tom was beloved throughout Wellington. He will certainly never be forgotten.” In Passaic, New Jersey, on November 20, 1932, Wenham was born. The two major turning points in Wenham’s early life came in January 1953: his marriage to Regis and his subsequent deployment to Korea to serve in the US Air Force during the Korean War. His military service inspired him to have a strong sense of patriotism and a desire to assist other veterans whenever he could, and the marriage has lasted for almost 70 years.
Wenham earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering and management from Northeastern University in Boston when he returned from the war, and he subsequently worked as a civil engineer for the Town of Needham in Massachusetts. He later enrolled at Florida State University, where he obtained his certified public manager certificate. In February 1981, the Wenham family relocated to Florida from Lexington, Massachusetts, where he served as the assessor. They moved in and have been residing in the same house in Wellington, a newly established neighborhood, for the past 41 years. Wenham served as the Palm Beach County Property Assessor’s Office’s director of field evaluations from 1981 to 1993 before transitioning to the position of assistant property appraiser.
Following that, he coordinated the two-year relocation of all the departments from the old courthouse to the new main courthouse. He accepted a position as director of capital projects and facilities manager with Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue in 1995. He worked there till he decided to retire in 2008. In addition to his great professional accomplishments, Wenham spent decades giving back to Wellington, the city he embraced. He started by volunteering for the Acme Improvement District, the town’s pre-incorporation authority. Wenham served on the board of directors for Residents of Wellington before taking over as president in 1988. In addition to serving as president of the South Shore 2A Neighborhood Association from 1990 to 1993, he chaired the utility review committee at Acme from 1989 to 1994.
Wenham was chosen in 1994 to serve on the board of the Acme Improvement District, which is responsible for Wellington’s parks, roads, and drainage. He participated actively in the subsequent, successful incorporation drive and was chosen in 1996 to serve on the first Wellington Village Council. Wenham was Wellington’s third appointed mayor from 2000 to 2003. In 2003, Wenham stood for office and won, becoming the Village of Wellington’s first directly elected mayor following a charter revision. He remained in that position up to 2008. Wenham took great pride in his work as mayor to annex Wellington Regional Medical Center within the neighborhood. A longtime member of the hospital’s governing board and the Patient Safety Committee, he also volunteered at WRMC.
“Tom was the epitome of a selfless public servant,” said Wellington Village Manager Jim Barnes, who worked with Wenham during his time at Palm Beach County and at the village, and also spoke at the memorial service. “From his job as an elected official to his dedication to his country to his roles in the public sector and society, he was in a league of his own. He was a kind man who rendered distinguished and honorable service to this community. He made all decisions through the same prism: ‘Is this what’s best for Wellington or Palm Beach County?’ My wish is that we would all share inspiring tales and recollections that help define Mr. Wenham’s legacy in order to pay tribute to him.
Wenham kept up his commitment to community service after quitting his position as an elected official. Wenham always placed a high value on the aesthetics of the Wellington neighborhood, and up until his passing, he was a longtime appointed member of the village’s Architectural Review Board. He was also a member of the advisory board for parks and recreation. Wenham was a part of a committed team of neighborhood veterans who worked hard in 2008 to open an American Legion post in Wellington to assist veterans and perform other civic duties. Wenham was the second commander of the brand-new Post 390 and remained a participant until his passing. He spoke frequently at community Veterans Day and Memorial Day gatherings, and he was honored to lay the American Air Force wreath.
The Wellington Community Foundation was first established by the Village of Wellington as a fundraising entity, but it was dormant for years after regulations were changed to prohibit that kind of municipal-run fundraising. In 2015, the Wellington Village Council decided to hand over the foundation to a community-run board, and Wenham stepped up to volunteer. He helped put together an active board of community leaders dedicated to projects that benefit Wellington’s children, veterans and seniors three groups near and dear to Wenham’s heart. Wenham headed this revived charity from its founding until his passing, and it will continue his charitable work long after him.
Wenham had a stroke in 2018, but he used this setback as an opportunity to give back to the community by collaborating with the American Stroke Association and Wellington Regional Medical Center on a stroke awareness campaign, certainly saving the lives of other senior citizens in Wellington. Wenham is one of only a select few individuals whose name is inscribed on the Founder’s Plaque on display at Wellington Village Hall in recognition of his decades of community work. You can make memorial contributions to the Wellington Regional Medical Center’s emergency room, the Wellington Veterans Memorial, and the Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue Clinic (7240 7th Place North, West Palm Beach, FL 33411).
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