Thomas John Urban
Tom succumbed to complications arising from a long and courageous battle with cancer drug therapy on March 2, 2018. He is survived by his brothers Michael (Veronica) and John (Deborah)-his sister Nancy Ingalls (Robert), nephews Randy Ingalls, George, Martin and John Urban and nieces Emily and Amy Urban and Cristal Ingalls.
Born into a working-class family in Monterey Park, California, Tom enjoyed a happy childhood and adolescence before earning a bachelor’s degree in sociology from CalState, Los Angeles in 1973. In 1975 he moved to Santa Barbara, working in sales for Rykoff and Company, a restaurant supply firm, until an early retirement in 1998.
Once retired from his business career. Tom developed an increasing interest in and commitment to social activism. Locally, he volunteered his services to the Food Bank, Direct Relief and the Dawg Adoption Welfare Group. He also managed Food From the Heart which found him leading groups of volunteers fruit and vegetable pickers who supplied the Food Bank and others with produce from local growers supporting the program.
Over time and in the course of disturbing events, Tom’s activism took a more political turn. In 2001, he joined the Santa Barbara chapter of Veterans for Peace, remaining active in that group until incapacitated by illness in 2017. In the wake of the brutal US invasion and occupation of Iraq, Tom took a leading role in founding the Arlington West Memorial which constructed a mock cemetery on Santa Barbara beaches with simple white crosses representing the US servicemen killed in the war. As the death toll mounted, so the “cemetery” expanded, drawing regional, and eventually, national attention. Tom became the public face of this effort, chatting with visitors each Sunday, explaining the significance of the site to them, just as he would to representatives of local and national mass media on numerous occasions.
Although intensely serious with respect to his activist projects, Tom greatly enjoyed a laugh and had a passion for slapstick. He found ways to turn aspects of his very illness into dark humor that lightened everyone’s mood.