Thomas Eastler

Sep 07, 2018
Thomas Eastler

Farmington — How I might sum up the life of my father, Thomas Eastler, 73, who died Aug. 30, 2018? In a reasonably sized written document is nearly impossible. It should include his humble beginnings in Waltham, Mass., and his impressive pedigree, from Brown University to Columbia University, where he received his doctorate in geology in 1971. It should describe his incredibly successful career in the military, which spanned active duty service for the Air Force during the Vietnam War and both Desert Storm and Desert Shield; he retired at the rank of colonel in 1996 after 30 years and 30 days of service (most of that spent in the active reserve).

It should include his love of teaching, retiring from the University of Maine in Farmington in 2015 after spending 41 years as a professor of geology. Teaching was his passion, and he was able to combine that with his love of sports, becoming influential in the development of youth racewalking for USA Track & Field in Maine and throughout the United States.

It would be incomplete if it didn’t include his “free time” activities, which included farming on his beloved 140-acre farm, privately consulting for the Department of Defense for several decades, sitting on three gubernatorial-appointed boards for the state of Maine, writing dozens of publications and books, and serving the town of Farmington for more than 40 years (most recently, the 29 years he spent on the Planning Board).

I would be remiss not to mention some of the awards he accumulated over the years, which include the Legion of Merit, Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Fellow of the Geological Society of America, among many others.

None of this, however, adequately sums up the man that Tom was and what legacy he has left behind. Tom lived with a purpose for life that he felt was bigger than living simply for oneself. His work ethic was unparalleled, leaving no job unfinished. He felt responsible for his fellow man, consistently doing for others at the expense of himself. **He lived at least five more lifetimes as measured by the amount of deeds accomplished while others were sleeping; while his family often saw this as a sacrifice to his personal being, it was probably more accurate to view this as part of his drive to live his life with great intention. He lived his whole life with curiosity, never losing his drive to learn. He took immense pride in the accomplishments not only of his family, but also of those he taught and coached over the years; he never felt that he was personally responsible for anyone’s success, but simply viewed his effort with each person as an encouragement to help them find the power and greatness within themselves.

Tom is survived by his beloved wife, his high school sweetheart, Susan Sinclair Eastler; his sister, Kathy Eastler Maher, of Bainbridge Island, Wash.; his children Lauren Farkash and her husband, Ron, Gretchen Fishman and her husband, Jayme, and Kevin Eastler and his wife, Sara. He leaves his greatest legacies, his grandchildren, Emma, Abby and Nathan Farkash; Lily, Shayna and Evan Fishman; Savannah and William Eastler. In addition to his sister-In-law, Sharon Sinclair Williams, and her husband, Robert, and numerous nieces and nephews, he will be missed by many whom he touched along the circle of his life.

This obituary is humbly written by his daughter Gretchen, whose strong voice and persistent manner (gifts from my father) was quieted ever so slightly in this writing. Words could never do justice to the life of this amazing man.

In his memory, two scholarships have been established in his name. Donations to the Thomas E. Eastler Geology Scholarship may be sent to the University of Maine at Farmington, Ferro Alumni Center, 242 Main St., Farmington, ME 04938. Donations to the Thomas Eastler Youth Fund for the USA Racewalking Foundation can be made at

There will be a public celebration of life for Tom Sunday, Sept. 30, at 1 p.m. at the University of Maine at Farmington (check the UMF calendar for specific location,, followed by a gathering at Sunny View Farm, 300 Mosher Hill Road, Farmington. Rocks for his memorial cairn are welcome.

Arrangements are with Wiles Remembrance Center, Farmington. Memories and condolences may be shared on his memorial wall at

Comments (6)
Posted by: Anthony Lee | Sep 10, 2018 11:45

As a Biology major at UMF, I had to take a Geology elective and ended up taking Earth History with Dr. Eastler.  It was one of the best classes I remember taking.  Not only did I learn a lot, but he had a way of keeping you thirsty for more. Occasionally, we would get a lecture of his many wonderful adventures as it pertained to the subject matter.  Sorry for your loss, sad to hear of his passing.

Anthony Lee, OD

Posted by: Christopher Donlin | Sep 09, 2018 17:17

Why I read obituaries. RIP

Posted by: Peter Root | Sep 08, 2018 08:55

This was one of the most unusual obituaries but in a good sense. It truly showed the legacy of this fine man. My condolences to his family.

Posted by: Heidi Ruth Locke | Sep 08, 2018 05:49

Dr “Rock” was the most amazing professor, I learned more from him than anyone!

I always remember the story that he told, while he was away on a trip, his wife Susan, took her engagement ring to be appraised, because it was quite large and she didn’t want to lose it so it needs to be insured.  Little did she know that Dr. “Rock” had not given her a real rock, it was cubic zirconium! When he returned home his bags were packed and sitting at the front door! He had some explaining to do!

He was a wonderful story teller too. RIP-Dr Rock!


Posted by: Mary Kate Moody | Sep 07, 2018 19:17

The above comment was posted by Chris Moody, not Mary Kate.


Posted by: Mary Kate Moody | Sep 07, 2018 19:17

Doctor Eastler was a role model and inspiration to so many of us who attending UMF and had him as a professor.   For those of us who are Veterans, we were honored to know him and be part of his brotherhood.  An outstanding influence to me as a beginning teacher and newly appointed Army Officer.  RIP Sir.


If you wish to comment, please login.