Thomas W. “Tom” Head



Thomas W. “Tom” Head, 92, formerly of Columbus, died in Los Angeles on Feb. 16 following a brief illness.

He was an engineer, sailor, designer, builder, musical theater lover, corporate vice president, innovator, thinker and dog lover.

Tom Head was born in Decatur, Illinois, on March 17, 1925, the son of Carl and Matie (Armstrong) Head.

He served in the U.S. Army in the South Pacific in during World War II, and then attended Purdue University on the G.I. Bill. He earned B.S. in mechanical engineering in 1948, and married Judith M. Sly, also of Decatur, on August 14, 1948. Together they raised four children, Eric, Molly, Carol, and Mary Julia (Julie).

Tom Head worked as an engineer at Caterpillar in E. Peoria, Illinois, from 1948 to 1964, and then went to work for Cummins Inc. in Columbus, Indiana, from 1964 to 1985, his final title being V.P. and General Manager, Affiliated Enterprises.

In the ’80s he was instrumental in developing the original mid-range engine project, a project that significantly altered Cummins’s course with smaller Cummins engines being built to go into Dodge Ram pickup trucks.

On a whimsical note, he started putting a Christmas tree in lights on the Cummins Tech Center in the late ’60s. The tradition continues.

He moved to Fort Myers Beach, Florida in 1985, and then moved to Los Angeles in 1998, where he lived on his sailboat, “The Sly Lady” (named for his wife) for several years, along with his dog, Charlie II.

Also while living in Los Angeles, he continued to volunteer as a tutor at the Culver City Adult Academy, and as a builder and designer for Camp Hope in Ecuador.

Tom Head is survived by daughters, Molly Head of Indianapolis, Carol Head (Skip Rimer) of Los Angeles, Mary Julie Head-Simpson (Skip Simpson) of Los Angeles; daughter-in-law, Carol Garey Head of Baltimore; and grandsons, Christopher Head, Andrew Rimer, and Daniel Rimer.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Judith Sly Head; son, Eric Head; and granddaughter, Katherine Simpson.

He will be inurned in the columbarium at the First Presbyterian Church in Columbus.

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Anna Herkamp is an editorial assistant at the Daily Journal. She can be reached at or 317-736-2712.