Gething, Thomas


Thomas Wilson (Tom) Gething, age 82, of Hockessin, Delaware, a professor emeritus of Asian languages at the University of Hawai’i, died suddenly on October 17, 2021.

Dr. Gething was born in Jackson, Michigan in 1939. He received BA (English), MA (Linguistics), and PhD (Linguistics) degrees from the University of Michigan and completed additional graduate studies at Indiana University and Yale University. His advanced degree work was funded by the U.S. Department of Education and the Ford Foundation.

In 1966, Dr. Gething began an academic career that spanned five decades and included university teaching, research, and administration at the University of Michigan, the University of Hawai’i, Ohio University, the University of Puget Sound, and the University of Washington. He retired from the University of Hawai’i as Dean of Students in 1995, and in 2012 from the University of Washington as Director of Postdoctoral Affairs. In retirement he had continued teaching and tutoring at the University of Delaware and with American Academic Connections in Wilmington, Delaware. He frequently remarked that he went off to school at the age of five and enjoyed learning so much that he stayed on for 77 years.

Dr. Gething directly influenced the lives of numerous students in his classroom teaching of Thai language and culture, and through his landmark Thai Basic Reader (with Pongsuwan T. Bilmes), which served for decades as a required textbook in university classes across the U.S. and beyond. He was a cross cultural communicator who emphasized the impact and importance of international understanding and the role of multilingualism in facilitating social and political dialogue worldwide.

When not on campus, Dr. Gething enjoyed choral singing and was involved in church choirs and community choruses. He also was a singer and lector at churches in every community in which he lived.

Dr. Gething is survived by his wife, Mary Catherine (Herold), his daughters Katherine Sabini (Paul), and Elizabeth Williams (James), and his step-children Lynne De la Cruz (Marieto), and David Witwer (Christine). He is also survived by his grandchildren Peter and Evan Sabini (who inspired his years in Delaware), Patrick De la Cruz, Kiana, Noelani, and Mele Witwer, and Jeremy Williams.

In addition to his parents, Dr. Gething was preceded in death by his grandson Stephen De la Cruz.

A memorial mass will be offered on November 5, 2021, at 3 p.m. at St. David’s Episcopal Church, 2320 Grubb Road, Wilmington, Delaware. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to a charity of choice or to the Thomas and Mary Gething Fund for Southeast Asian Studies, University of Washington, Box 353650, Seattle, WA 98195.

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