Thomas Harold Mahan – Captain, United States Army

Thomas Harold Mahan No. 15856

Class of 1946
Died 17 January 1980 in Helena, Montana, aged 55 years.
Interment: Arlington National Cemetery


Tom was Born 14 December 1924 in Bozeman, Montana. His family moved to Helena, Montana, where he attended school, graduating from high school in 1942. He attended Montana State University one year before entering the United States Military Academy. Tom graduated from West Point 4 June 1946.

When the Korean Conflict arose, Tom was serving with the 27th Infantry regiment,  25th Infantry Division in Japan. He served with this “Wolfhound” Regiment in Korea in 1950-51. Returning to Japan he served in the honor guard for General Douglas MacArthur and General Matthew Ridgway.

Tom resigned from the Army in 1953 to enter the University of Montana Law School. He received his Bachelor and Doctor of Law degrees from the University of Montana. During this time, he also studied law at the University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado. He was a member of Phi Delta Phi Legal fraternity and was president 1954-55.

During his law career he was admitted to practice by the Montana Supreme Court; United States District Court, Montana; United States Court of Claims; United States Supreme Court; Circuit Court of Appeals and the Interstate Commerce Commission. He was a member and served as president of the State Bar of Montana; was a member of the First Judicial District Bar Association; Trial Lawyer's Association; National Council of Bar Presidents, Western States Bar Conference, American Bar Association, and American Judicature Society. Tom was an authority on poverty law and the rights of the indigent. He authored an extensive article on family law for the Montana Law Review in 1978. He lectured on poverty law at various law schools and administrative meetings and authored the section of the 1972 Montana Constitution giving the State the authority to care for
indigent persons.

Tom was involved with many volunteer organizations and activities. A few of these are: The Montana Heart Association where he served on all levels during his 24  years of activity. He was president in 1957. As a member of the American Heart Association he served as president of the Northwest Rocky Mountain Region Board of Directors; he was national vice president, on the national finance committee and the national evaluation subcommittee. He was a life member of the Disabled American Veterans for which he served as state president and national committeeman. Tom served as District  Representative for the United States Military Academy for the last 15 years of his life. He was Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army, 1975 until his death. Tom was a member of the Helena Chamber of Commerce and served on the board of directors for three years. He was a member of the Montana Historical Society, Algeria Shrine, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Helena Civilian Club, and Plymouth Congregational Church, where he was past chairman of the diaconate.

Tom received the Distinguished Service Award for the State Bar of Montana, the Bronze and the Silver service awards from the American Heart Association, the Jade Gavel award for service as regional chairman of the American Heart Association, and Notable Americans award 1976-77. He was included in Who's Who in the West, and Who's Who in American Law. He has been nominated to receive the Outstanding Montanan award.

Tom is survived by his wife, Erys, 1800 Silver Street, Helena, Montana; two daughters, Coleen Mahan Lawlor, Chesapeake, Virginia; Molly Mahan Stewart, Missoula, Montana; and two grandchildren, Michael Mahan Lawlor and Molly Beth Lawlor.

Tom loved his God, his country and his family and spent his life in service to all three.

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