Thomas James Countis
Thomas James Countis died Dec. 21 in Carson City with his family by his side. He was 87.
Thomas was born Nov. 1, 1921 in the small town of Centerville, Iowa to James and Helen Countis, both Greek immigrants to the United States. The oldest of three, Thomas and his brother Michael and sister, Alexandra spent much of their childhood at his father’s fountain candy store eating plenty of banana fudge sundaes.
At the age of 19 Thomas enlisted with the U.S. Army and worked as a Signal Corp. radio operator; stationed in Greenland, West Africa, France, England, and other locations during World War II. He was presented with seven Overseas Service Bars for serving six months or longer overseas in a combat zone. Thomas was deeply affected by the loss of his younger brother Michael, who died while serving in the Army.
After the war Thomas left the military to pursue an education at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Thomas graduated with a B.S. in Engineering Physics in 1949. Post-college, Thomas moved to Los Angeles, California where he worked at Collins Radio Company from 1953 to 1957 and then at Hughes Aircraft Company from 1958 to 1963. Thomas helped set up an electronic ceramic manufacturing facility at the aircraft company. He was also testing his own entrepreneurial skills with garage experiments of his own building transistors, one of the main components of modern computers.
Thomas met Esther Mary Gonsoir while she was working at Bank of America and were married.
In 1964, Thomas established Countis Industries – a supplier of microwave ceramic materials for military, radar, aerospace communication, and medical devices – in San Luis Obispo, Calif. He later moved his company to Carson City in 1983 where the company currently operates today.
Part of Thomas’ success as a business owner came from his experience growing up during the Depression Era, as he witnessed his father’s store close because of the trying times. He was conservative and mindful of his business ventures.
Always experimenting and coming up with new ideas, Thomas was passionate about his business and acted as a mentor to other small business owners. Thomas enjoyed sharing his Greek heritage with his family whether it was making baklava every Christmas or teaching his grandchildren the Greek alphabet. His feisty nature, red suspenders, and desire to impart wisdom will be missed.
He is survived by his four children and five grandchildren. The eldest daughter, Donna Stimson, lives in Oceanside, Calif. and is retired. Thomas Michael Countis lives in Nevada City, Calif. with his wife Michelle and together they have three grown children: Sierra, Michael, and Alexia Countis. Thomas runs a family business, Countis Laboratories, and worked closely with his father. James Countis lives in Carson City with his wife Paula and currently manages Countis Industries. The youngest, Joyce Buck, lives in Carson City with her husband Larry and together they have two grown children: Sarah and Kyle Buck.
Thomas enjoyed fishing, hunting, and flying as a private pilot. He also took many memorable car-camping trips each summer with Esther and his children.
He was preceded in death by his parents, brother Michael, sister Alexandra, and wife Esther in 2002.
Funeral services will be 11 a.m., Monday at St. Theresa of Avila Church. The burial will take place 1:30 p.m. at Lone Mountain Cemetery.