Thomas Michael Volatile, a retired insurance salesman and former Navy lieutenant commander, died of cancer Aug. 8 at his home in Lewes, Delaware. He was 92 and had lived in Hunt Valley.
Born in Baltimore and raised on Broadway, he was the son of Anthony Volatile and his wife, Theresa Volatile. He was a 1949 graduate of Baltimore Polytechnic High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and history from what is now Loyola University Maryland. He ran track and was a diver on the school’s swimming team.
He was commissioned as an ensign in the Navy and served aboard the destroyer Robert A. Owens, cargo ship Seminole and the Bon Homme Richard, an aircraft carrier.
He was stationed at Bainbridge in Cecil County; San Diego, California; Livorno, Italy; and the Pentagon. He also had a Vietnam tour and served as a combat historian in a then newly created field.
Mr. Volatile went on to be commanding officer of the Armed Forces Entrance and Examining Station in Philadelphia and was later assistant to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard’s commandant.
He retired as a lieutenant commander and then changed careers, becoming a Massachusetts Mutual insurance agent in 1973. He worked another 47 years in that role.
Mr. Volatile was musical and sang with the Pine Barons, a barbershop chorus.
“Life with Thomas was colorful. You never knew what to expect from him. It could be a song, usually a joke,” his companion Carol Dennis said. “He was a true patriot and continued throughout his life as an advocate for veterans everywhere.”
She said he was proud of his children’s and grandchildren’s accomplishments.
“He didn’t miss many football, basketball or lacrosse games over the past 17 years,” she said.
He gave little lectures on life experiences to his grandchildren.
“He told them how to behave, how to treat the people in their lives and proper table manners,” she said. “They rolled their eyes when he got up to talk, but I think secretly they looked forward to his lectures, and they all adored him.”
In 2021, Mr. Volatile shared his life stories on WBOC-TV’s Delmarva Life program.
“I’ve tried to live the best life I could and I know I’ve stumbled at times, but I always tried to pick myself up and keep going. I just want to be remembered as a good man,” he said in the TV interview. “If people can say that about me, then I’ve achieved something special”.
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He enjoyed games of golf, running, water sports, gourmet cooking, crossword puzzles and gardening.
“He was not one to slow down,” his companion said. “Thomas even completed a parachute jump at the age of 80. He wanted to do another when he turned 90 but I said no.”
After moving to Lewes, Delaware, in 2016, he joined the Cape Henlopen Elks Lodge and became chair of its veterans committee.
In 2019-20, he was awarded the Veteran Volunteer Award for his work.
A tenor, he sang karaoke at the Seaside Fish House in Long Neck, Delaware.
Survivors include his companion of 17 years, Carol Dennis, director of Coastal Concerts in Lewes; two sons, Thomas Michael Volatile Jr. of Santa Rosa, California, and Mark Howard Volatile of Knoxville, Tennessee; two daughters, Patricia Brandon McTague of Willingboro, New Jersey and Charlotte Anne Goebel of Cape Coral, Florida; has grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. He was a father to Carol’s son, Scott Dennis, a Millsboro, Delaware, resident and a grandfather to his three sons. Mr. Volatile’s wife, Marjorie Day, died in 1995.
A funeral service will be held at 11 am Aug. 15 at the Parsell Funeral Home and Crematorium, Atkins-Lodge Chapel at 16961 Kings Highway in Lewes.