Tommy Lee Kirchner

09/04/1948 — 02/17/2024

From Oracle, AZ | Born in San Antonio, TX

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Funeral Mass

Thu, March 7, 2024, 11:00 am
Einan’s at Sunset
915 Bypass Highway

Richland, WA US 99352

Committal Service

Thu, March 7, 2024, 12:00 pm
Sunset Gardens
915 Bypass Highway Richland, WA 99352

Tommy Lee Kirchner

Tommy Lee Kirchner, age 75, passed away on February 17, 2024 from complications due to Alzheimer’s. Tom was born in San Antonio, Texas on September 4, 1948 to parents Ron and Rachel Kirchner. He is survived by his wife, Florence; daughter: Suzanne and husband Jeff; grandchildren Emma and Ellie; son, Matthew and wife Shawnasie; grandchildren Kai and Alyeska; daughter, Christy and husband Jason; grandsons: Aiden and Ryan. Tom is also survived by sister, Sabrena and husband Dan; niece Jennifer and husband Andrew; niece, Sedona; and brother Dez.

Tom lived most of his youth in Arizona. He graduated from Buena High School in Sierra Vista, Arizona. Upon graduation at age 17, he and his best friends (even to this day), Gary Nine and Mark Perry decided to join the Navy. His buddies were assigned duty on ships; while Tom was assigned to fly reconnaissance flights over Vietnam, North Korea and Russia. They flew out of Atsugi Japan, but at times landed and spent time in Da Nang. This was where Tom was wounded in the foot during an attack by the North Vietnamese. He received a purple heart.

Tom served 3 years in the Navy, completing his tour in 1969 in what was called the “Kiddy cruisers” program.

After serving, he used the GI bill to attend the University of Arizona getting his degree in electrical engineering.

After graduating, he worked for Boeing in Seattle for a year. Tom then got an offer in the Tri-cities to work for Westinghouse at the Hanford Project.

In 1975 Florence came to the Tri Cities, Washington to accept a position as a school librarian at Richland High School and Hanford High School. Tom and Florence met in November, 1975 at a Desert Ski club wine tasting party. They were married on June 26, 1976. They had been married for 47 years.

After Westinghouse, Tom worked for 3 years for AE International, then started his own company called Electronic Systems Technology. This company makes long-distance wireless modems used in warehousing, police, overseas, water treatment plants, book mobiles, and military.

Besides being the president of his own company, Tom was also a member of Richland Rotary and was president for one year of that association. Tom won a national R & D 100 award for the invention of his wireless long- distance modem. He also won the 2009 Sam Volpentest Entrepreneurial Leadership Award and other local awards and patents.

Tom developed an interest in triathlons and participated in many Olympic distance races. He also completed 2 half ironman triathlons; as well as a number of marathon races. He loved biking and swimming.

Besides the above activities, he loved being a member of the local Porsche club and made many wonderful friends there.

Motorcycling was also on the list of his interests; as well as woodworking. Among his creations were dressers for the “kids” which could be passed down to the grandchildren; a Murphy bed; a window seat; cutting table; and a basement craft bench.

Tom was most proud of the accomplishments of his children. Suzanne is now Assistant Principal of Sunset View Elementary School in Kennewick, Washington. Matthew is an Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering at Auburn University in Alabama. Christy owns her own dental practice in Seattle, Washington.

In honor of Tom and in lieu of flowers, we ask you to consider donating to Tunnel to Towers Foundation, as this cause was dear to his heart.

Tunnel to Towers Foundation (

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Tommy Lee Kirchner

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  • Tom gave me my first job after I returned home from my service in the Navy. His willingness to take a chance on a me gave me the boost I needed to start my adult life in the Tri-Cities. For that I will always be appreciative. I respect Tom’s work ethic, sense of right and wrong and his love of country. He was what folks would call “solid” but in Navy terms, Tom was a great Shipmate.

    Fair winds and following seas Tom!

    Condolences to Florence and the rest of the family.

    Shir Regev
    March 7, 2024
  • Never thought this day would come so soon! We spent a lifetime living ours lives always having tomorrow, never thinking how fast it can end. Let Jesus take your eternal soul to heaven to begin a new and beautiful life you deserve. It has been a good life between us! From your loving brother who will always remember what you did for others and myself! May the peace of God be with now,! I know I will see you again in a better place., one day!

    Dez Kirchner
    March 7, 2024
  • My Porsche man!!

    Dean Doces
    March 7, 2024
  • I first met Tom in 1974 where together we worked on the design and fabrication of some fairly elaborate test hardware used in the development of materials for use in nuclear reactors. Tom was then and always, an unbridled character with enthusiasm that never wavered. This was the beginning of the electronics era where simple calculators cost over $300 and Tom was committed to staying on the leading edge of developments.

    In fact, he became one the industry innovators and started his own company developing and manufacturing wireless modems. I have vivid memories of touring one of the early production facilities and listening to Tom’s excited description of the equipment and manufacturing process (much of which was over my head).

    I also recall getting a phone call from Tom while he was away on a business trip and asking me to see that flowers where delivered to this librarian he had recently met, Florence. A librarian dating crazy Tom was difficult to imagine, but what a great couple they turned out to be.
    Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to Florence and the family.
    Jeff and Ruth Grover

    Jeff & Ruth Grover
    March 5, 2024
    St George, Utah
  • Our condolences to our Kirchner relatives. We had the pleasure of meeting Tom in 2022. Florence and Tom were able to travel to NJ to honor my father’s passing and it was heartwarming to be able to connect. We could see what a wonderful relationship they had, full of love and respect for each other.
    My father used to tell us about his brother in law and had only respect and good words to describe Tom. He was very happy that his baby sister married such a good man.
    We will keep you all in our prayers. We know that thru your faith you will find comfort and peace.

    Robin and Daniel Collins
    February 27, 2024
    Colts Neck, NJ
  • I met Tom and Florence through my parents dating all the way back to Elementary School at Spaulding where Florence was the librarian some 44 years ago. Tom would take me on various flights when he got his pilot license, rides in the Porsche and him a Florence attended a lot of my family’s celebrations throughout the yeas. Tom was a Solid Man, A Great Husband and he raised such great children that I still have a friendship with today. It was a honor and a privilege to be his friend. I say I was the lucky one!!!!

    Bryce Geiger
    February 27, 2024
  • I worked for Tom at EST, he was a tough but fair boss, and the his high expectations helped me land a job at PNNL. I will always be grateful for the work and the good times cycling.
    Fair winds and following seas sir!

    Phil Smith
    February 26, 2024
    Kennewick, WA
  • Tom – Jo-Ann and I met you and Florence at the Gage and Keene Starbucks. I really enjoyed talking with you about your military service, and about the wireless modem that you developed and patented. I actually used your wireless modem technology in my law enforcement career. We enjoyed your sense of humor and the conversations that we had. Rest in peace, my friend.

    Mike & Jo-Ann Neely
    February 26, 2024
    Richland, Washington
  • I remember Tom from Westinghouse Hanford. I started work as a instrument Tech in April of 1974. I was just out of the Navy after 6 years active duty. Tom was the first EE I did work for, We were in the 325 building. Tom was great to work for and I learned a lot from him in those early days. He made sure I had the tools and equipment that I needed to do my job. At the time I did not know he was a Navy Vet. But then to in 1974 a lot of people did not know I was a vet ether as Vietnam Vets were looked down on by many. I am clad to have known you and May God Bless My Brother.

    Michael Tesky
    February 26, 2024
    Kennewick Wa.
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