Donald Gene McPherson “Tommy Trader”
June 20, 1932-March 25, 2019
Two things defined Tommy Trader's life – his work ethic and cars. Born during the great depression in Oklahoma, he was selling newspapers, magazines and seeds on the corner of 52nd and Normandy in Los Angeles at age six. He left school at age 14 to join the army during WWII although he did not see action as the war was ending. He was very proud of his service and had his Army picture on his desk at work until he died. He specifically said he would like the picture of him in his Army uniform in his obituary when he died.
Tommy lived in Los Angeles and Washington State before finding his home in Hanford, California at the age of 19. After working in his stepfather's body shop he became a car salesman in his early 20's. For the next 65 years Tommy helped farmers buy work trucks, he helped teens finance their first car, he helped young couples make the transition into the right vehicle for a growing family. He never tired of going to the car lot and helping his customers find that perfect car.
He sold cars all of his adult life, most of those years for the local Ford Dealerships, starting with Bill Stevenson Ford, Bob Greene Ford, Kingsrow Ford, Valley Ford and finally Keller Ford. He also ventured out on his own and opened Tommy Trader's Fine Used Cars for a few years. Tommy earned many awards and trips over the years due to his excellent sales skills. He also worked as sales manager and general manager but his love was helping customers.
For many years Tommy was a race car driver. He raced jalopies, hard tops, full midgets and quarter midgets. Johnny Boyd, his friend and Indy 500 race car driver, once remarked that Tommy was good enough to race at the Indy 500! But he never had the desire to leave the central valley and he wanted to be home with his family.
Tommy's life growing up was rough at times and that may have been why he had a lifelong sock fetish. He had tons of pairs of socks, and was always happy to get more as gifts. He only owned two pairs of socks at one point as a child - one for wearing and one to launder.
Tommy's birth name was Donald Gene McPherson. What most people don't know is that Tommy was a childhood nickname. Trader was a name his stepfather used, and when Tommy went to work for him at his body shop, the name stuck.
Coming from a rough childhood and facing the challenges he had with his own daughter, Donna, Tommy had a soft spot in his heart for children in need; really, anyone in need. He was very generous, very sentimental and he had a heart of gold. For someone who only had an 8th grade education, Tommy was a wise man and gave wonderful advice.
Tommy died suddenly at home on Monday, March 25. One of his neighbors said on Facebook that he stopped his car and visited with her Sunday afternoon on his way to town.
Tommy was preceded in death by his stepfather Bob Trader, mother Maxine Stanley, daughter Lesli Stanton, beloved wife Donna “Trader” McPherson, brothers Eddie McPherson and Kerby Trader. Sisters Dorothy Reynolds and Delores Beaver.
Tommy is survived by his children, Donna Jean McPherson, Sherry Russell (Terry), Terry Warby, and Rich Brown. Son-in-law Tom Stanton. Grandchildren Michael (Martin) Cardoza (Niki), Anthony Martin (Amber), Justin Russell (Laura), Jared Russell (Jamie), Cameron Brown (Kara) and Jennifer Aspeitia. He also leaves behind 12 great grandchildren.
A celebration of life will be held Saturday, April 6 at Hanford Fraternal Hall at noon. TT had a tremendous impact on many, many people and he will be greatly missed.