Thomas Wixted, a former Marine Corps lance corporal who spent more than 30 years working at the Kings Park Psychiatric Center’s maintenance department, died of lung cancer on Thursday. He was 78.
Born in Queens Village, Wixted joined the Marines when he was 17. During boot camp, he earned the Sharpshooter Marksmanship Badge. Soon after, Wixted landed a new job as a trainer at the Marine Corps rifle range in Quantico, Virginia.
Childhood friend John Kendrick, who joined the Marines at the same time as Wixted, said the training role was ideal for his friend because it matched his personality.
“Everybody loved him because he was easygoing and never would say anything bad about anybody,” said Kendrick, who now lives in South Carolina.
After three years in the Marines, Wixted was discharged February 1959, immediately returning to Queens Village. In October 1962, he married his first wife, Joan Higgins. They moved to Ronkonkoma four years later.
In his civilian life, Wixted started as an entry-level worker at the psychiatric center. About a decade later, he rose to plant superintendent, a job he held for 20 years. He retired in 1994.
Wixted became an avid golfer, playing at least three times a week, Kendrick said.
He would spend Long Island winters in Boynton Beach, Florida to extend his golf time, said Wixted’s stepdaughter, Deirdre Kroupa.
Kroupa said her favorite memories of Wixted include family trips to Maine, Ireland, and Turks and Caicos.
“He was kind of like a gentle giant, somebody who helped everyone, but he did it without anyone really knowing,” she said. “He would stop on the side of the road to help somebody.”
Survivors include his second wife, Jane Pettit of Ronkonkoma; sons Joseph and Thomas Wixted, both of Ronkonkoma; stepchildren Tara Felice of Ronkonkoma, Deidre Kroupa of Islip Terrace and Neil Pettit of St. James; and 9 grandchildren.
Thomas Wixted is predeceased by Higgins and stepson Glen Pettit, an NYPD officer who died on Sept. 11, 2001.
Visitation will be Saturday from 6 to 9 p.m., and Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m., at Moloney’s Bohemia Funeral Home. The funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at Church of the Holy Cross in Nesconset.
Wixted died at 9:11 a.m., which the family says was a symbolic ending.
“His family believes he was welcomed into heaven by his son Glen and a brand-new set of golf clubs,” Kroupa said.