Drysdale Memorial Page

This Page will collect memorials and remembrances for AOSHS founder, Dr. Thomas Townsend Drysdale, Jr. If you have any memorial wishes, memorabilia or stories that you feel would be appropriate to display here, please send them to AOSHS webmaster at aoshsoffice@sbcglobal.net. This page will continue to change as more content is provided. 



Drysdale, Thomas
91, of Goodyear, AZ passed away on Feb 28, 2013. Thomas Townsend Drysdale, Jr., died on February 28, 2013 in Goodyear, AZ, after a brief illness. Thomas was born on May 4, 1921 in Alamosa, CO, to Oneta Moore Kirkpatrick and Thomas Townsend Drysdale, Sr. He spent his early years in CO. He attended Compton Junior College, CA, where he met his future wife, Norma Fay Hall. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1941 and served in WWII as a B-24 pilot in the Eighth Air Force, 44th Bomb Group, and flew missions over Sicily, Naples, Normandy and Germany. He won the Distinguished Flying Cross and European-African-Middle Eastern Service Medal. He received a B. A. from Whittier College, in Whittier, CA, in 1952. He taught in the Whittier elementary school system from 1952 – 1956. He served as a principal and superintendent in the Department of Defense Dependent School System in England, Germany and Hawaii from 1956-1981. After WWII he served thirty years in the U. S. Air Force Reserves, attaining the rank of Lt. Colonel. He received a Ph.D. in comparative education from Georgetown University in Washington, D. C. in 1973. He was an adjunct professor of education at Northern Arizona University from 1984 – 1994. He founded the American Oversees Schools Historical Society, headquartered in Wichita, KS, in 1989. A resident of Goodyear for 18 years, he leaves his beloved wife of 70 years, Norma Fay Hall. He was the father of Lianne of Ozark, MO; Peter David of Dingmans Ferry, PA; Connie Marie of Branford, CT; Dale Thomas of Alexandria, VA; Brian and Karl, both of Goodyear, AZ. He also leaves six grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren, and a sister, Emma Lou Willis of Kerrville, TX. Abel Funeral Service, 1627 N. 51st Ave. Phoenix AZ 85035 Visitation March 7, 2013 2 PM, Service March 7, 2013 3 PM



 Chuck Willis, Dr. Dysdale, Margaret Palmer and Dr. Bamberger (seated) signing the purchase documents for the new building in 2005.

Chuck Willis, Dr. Dysdale, Margaret Palmer
and Dr. Bamberger (seated) signing the purchase documents
for the new building in 2005.

Memories of Tom Drysdale

by Diana Kempton (friend, Overseas Brat, and former board member of AOSHS)


I first met Tom Drysdale at Joe Condrill’s Overseas Brats Homecoming in 1999 at Covington, KY, when I attended his presentation on the proposed American Overseas Schools Historical Park, complete with architectural renderings and model. I heard of proposals by architectural committee members, AOSHS members, Overseas Brats members, and various Brats who belonged to individual school alumni groups. This white-haired gentlemen stood tall and proud as he shared his background of having been a teacher in California, then an overseas schools principal and superintendent, and later an adjunct professor at Northern Arizona University, working with the overseas schools teaching program.

As he spoke of his vision for a museum and park, a home for people who were teachers, administrators, and/or students at schools around the world–people who felt at home in many places, yet had no singular place to call “home”–his vision became mine. I saw a circle of flags representing all American overseas schools to date waving in the wind, surrounding the open globe metal sculpture.

I envisioned a place to call “home” for those who lived in many more places than I had. I attended Dept. of Defense schools in West Berlin from 6th grade in 1965-66 through graduation in 1972. Prior to that I’d been in the Accommodation Schools at Ft. Huachuca, Arizona since Kindergarten, attending only one very uncomfortable year at a public school between the two.

I joined AOSHS then and there, and offered my services on the Architectural Committee, which Tom took me up on immediately. Soon I was editing and laying out the Quarterly newsletter, which kept me involved and up to date on everything happening with AOSHS. I was surprised and proud to be named the “AOSHS Volunteer of the Year for 2001” during the dedication week of the AOSHS Historical Park in Wichita, KS, and was even more proud to serve two terms alongside fellow alumna and classmate Jeri Polansky Glass as the first overseas brat alumni on the AOSHS Board of Directors.

From taking on the Archives to founding today’s AOSHS in 1989, Tom was the spearhead of an effort to preserve the history and memories of America’s grand experiment to send military families overseas instead of just those who served, thus showcasing American life and providing their children the highest quality education experience. We owe his memory so much. Without him, we would not be on this path, and much of the memorabilia of the overseas schools experience would be scattered to the wind.

Personally, I have lost a friend, a great mentor and a source of inspiration, not to mention a champion in my career track. Because of Tom, I’m now also an adjunct faculty member of two colleges as well as pursuing some dreams that involve writing and photography, dreams that might have been left on the back burner without his inspiration.

Tom’s wife, Norma, once forwarded me their tongue-in-cheek retirement plans for when Tom turned 85: to take up residence on a Princess Cruise Ship, since the accommodations were far better, and less expensive, than those of senior care facilities. But Tom kept on going, sailing on his own course till the end, working tirelessly to preserve our histories and memorabilia so they may live on in perpetuity. Thanks, Tom. We will keep your dream alive.



Dr. Tom Drysdale

 by Dr. Ann Bamberger (the 2nd AOSHS President following Tom)

I first met Tom Drysdale in 1979 when I became principal at SHAPE High School in Belgium and Tom was director of the Atlantic Region of the DoD schools.  He started as my boss, and over the years became my friend.  When he retired in 1981 I thought it unlikely that we would meet again, but when I was later assigned as Superintendent of the Heidelberg District in Germany who should pop into my office but Tom Drysdale.  It was about 1990 and Tom was an adjunct professor at Northern Arizona University (NAU) and was in Europe supervising student teachers from NAU in DoDDS schools.  At that time he told me about AOSA, the American Overseas Schools Archives, which had been established at NAU in 1989.

Due to the collapse of the Soviet Union, the military mission in Europe had changed and many schools were being closed.  Tom and Dr. Eugene Hughes, president of NAU, felt the history of this unique school system was too important to lose, so the archives were established.  When the space at NAU became too small, Tom took possession of the materials and the American Overseas Schools Historical Society (AOSHS) was incorporated in 1995.  Tom’s dedication to AOSHS and the history of the schools was evident to all.  He worked tirelessly to find a home for AOSHS and attempted to get funding for a museum to house the memorabilia and artifacts sent in by schools, educators and former students.

Following meetings with Senate staffers and a member of the House of the Representatives, he was hoping to receive some Federal funding for the project, but September 11, 2001 brought a halt to any such plans.  So the museum was put aside and a building was bought in Wichita to house the archives.  From being a totally volunteer organization, to having several part-time employees, AOSHS has grown to have a full-time office manager/archive director, and is actively pursuing joining forces with other museums representing military life.

None of this would have been a reality without Tom Drysdale’s vision and tireless efforts over the past 18 years.  There were at one time over 200 schools in Europe; the count in 2013 is 76.  The loss of schools in the Pacific is far less, primarily all the schools in the Philippines and a few in Japan. He has left a wonderful legacy that will keep the memory of those schools and the quality of education they provided alive.  We have much for which to thank him.




2 thoughts on “Drysdale Memorial Page

  1. After retiring from DoDDS in 1992, my wife and I attended our first overseas schools reunion; the summer of 1993. Tom Drysdale organized this reunion in Flagstaff, Arizona. It was in Flagstaff that the idea of beginning a Historical Society for the preservation of visual memorabilia related to all the DODDS schools since their founding in 1946. be saved. Tom was already storing such memorabilia in his garage. Drydale is truly the Father of the Historical Society. He is responsible for keeping the flame of our Department of Defense Overseas Schools burning. The enthusiasm that Tom and his wife Norma have generated towards the preservation of irreplaceable memorabilia from most of the Department of Defense Overseas Schools throughout the entire world has been, indeed, contagious. Tom will be remembered and revered by so many of us whom he has touched over the years. Glynn H. Turquand 1962-1992

  2. I am a graduate of the Heidelberg High School class of 1952. My father was Post Chaplain of Heidelberg at the time I went to school there. My graduating class was held on the grounds of the Heidelberg Castle and was video taped for the first time and sent back to the US for our families to see. There is still a web site picture of our ceremony. I have recently re-connected with some of my classmates. It is a real treat to relive and reconstruct my life as an Army Brat. I know my Dad and Mother would be just thrilled to know how much this means to me.

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