Thomas Thiringer

Obituary of Thomas Peter Thiringer

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Thomas Peter Thiringer (“Tom”) died at his home in McLean, Virginia, on January 29, 2022. Tom is remembered for rising from childhood in World War II Europe to building a life in America, ultimately earning two degrees from Stanford University and serving as a Federal government executive with the space program. He is also remembered for his love of family, particularly for his wife of nearly 60 years, Erika Thiringer, who died in 2020.


Tom, the only child of Lászlo and Magdolna Thiringer, was born in the city of Budapest, Hungary, in 1931.  During the turbulent years of World War II, Tom and his mother experienced much hardship.  They were often without his father, who was frequently at war and was a P.O.W. in the latter part of the war.  After an early education moving around to various schools, he enrolled in the Benedictine Archabbey of Pannonhalma.  As the war progressed, Tom’s family escaped many close calls and eventually fled the rapidly advancing Soviet forces, leaving their home and nearly all their belongings in Hungary.  After reunification with his father and six long years as refugees in Germany, the family was finally allowed to emigrate to the United States and settled in California. Tom enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and served for four years in the U.S. and in England.  Upon return to California, despite a fragmented academic record due to the war, he was admitted to Stanford University in the ROTC program, where he earned Bachelors and Masters degrees in Political Science.  After his college education, he continued to serve in the USAF reserves, ultimately achieving the rank of Captain.


Tom met his future wife Erika through mutual friends within the California Hungarian community. They married in 1960 and settled in the San Francisco bay area.  Tom worked for Lockheed Missiles and Space Company (LMSC) in Sunnyvale as a budget analyst, while at the same time he began his family with the birth of two daughters.  On a whim during a vacation in Washington, D.C., Tom applied for a job with the newly-formed National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), during the height of President Kennedy’s push to land a man on the moon. After accepting an offer and moving his family across the country to northern Virginia, he had a son, then began what would turn into a 25-year career with the space agency.  He held many positions with NASA during the Apollo and Space Shuttle program years, culminating with his appointment to the Senior Executive Service in 1983.  Tom retired from the civil service in 1989.  After a few years as a retiree in Alexandria, he and Erika moved to Sarasota, Florida, where they spent nearly 20 happy years.


Tom is survived by daughters Andrea Billewicz (Michael) and Tina Bonorden, son Peter Thiringer (Kathleen), and his six grandchildren, Melissa, Leslie, Steve, Natalie, Kara and Joe, all of whom will miss him dearly. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife Erika and son-in-law David. 


A joint ceremony of inurnment with his wife Erika will occur at Arlington National Cemetery on April 29, 2022, followed by a celebration of life with family and friends.

A Memorial Tree was planted for Thomas
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Direct Cremation Svcs of VA - Chantilly
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