After graduating from Hamilton, Thom enrolled in the Child Study program at the Elliott-Pearson School at Tufts University. There he became aware of how little experience he actually had working with children, so he took a detour from his goal of getting a PhD and became a fourth grade teacher at Chestnut Hill Academy in Philadelphia. He was later appointed Head of the Junior School there. Wanting a new challenge after a few years he and his family moved to Colorado Springs, CO where he became the Director of the K-6 Children’s School. But, the desire to pursue a doctorate bubbled up again. So in 1982 he and his family, which by then included his wife of 12 years, Nancy, and their three children, Andy, Meg, and Ian, piled belongings into a U-Haul van and family into a VW bus (“The Prairie Schooner”) and headed to Minnesota. He enrolled in the combined School Psychology-Child Development Program at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Graduate school in your late 30’s and early 40’s was like being a kid in an intellectual candy shop. Neither Nancy nor Thom ever expected to stay in the Mid-West after graduating.
That was 34 years ago. After earning his PhD and completing his internship he became licensed as a clinical and school psychologist and as a marriage and family therapist. He went to work at HealthPartners, a large HMO in the Twin Cities, first as a child psychologist in the outpatient mental health center. After a few years he joined a sub-group of psychologists who were pioneering integrated mental health and primary & specialty medical care. His therapy “office” became pediatric exam rooms in medical clinics. It was stimulating, challenging, and very gratifying work.
Thom retired from HealthPartners in 2000 after 14 years of increasing management and research responsibilities and with the ever-increasing demands of an HMO. He opened his own solo private practice near home. The autonomy was glorious at that stage of life. He kept his practice opened far longer than expected, but in 2013, with a diagnosis of prostate cancer to deal with and the recognition that he and his wife weren’t getting any younger, he fully retired. Life in Stillwater, MN felt like home, and they were able to do what fortunate retirees often do: travel frequently, spend time with grandchildren, and become engaged in meaningful community and volunteer activities.