A tribute to Vic Fomo

Vic Fomo

Vic Fomo

Norm Noble

As Vic Fomo said, he was born at a very early age in Anacortes, Washington. His parents were Italian immigrants who came to the United States in 1910 to escape the burgeoning World War I.

His high school years were in the middle of the Great Depression and college was a distant hope. Yet Vic applied at the University of Washington, feeling he might be a candidate for the rowing team, “I was five feet two inches and a 98-lb weakling.” He was admitted into the university and made the Freshmen Rowing Team as coxswain. That began an unprecedented string of victories. He never lost a crew race in four years; a feat never accomplished before nor since in college rowing. In his sophomore year, the Husky varsity crew won three national championships. They were selected to go to Helsinki, Finland to compete in the 1940 Olympics, “but Hitler spoiled that,” Vic said. The University of Washington Crew of 1941, with Vic Fomo as coxswain, is still considered the finest ever to dip their oars in the water, and has been enshrined in the University of Washington Hall of Fame.

Oh yes, he had one other accomplishment while at Washington. Mademoiselle magazine voted him one of the four best-dressed men on a college campus in the USA.

It was wartime and Vic was drafted into the Army, ending up in the Army Air Corps where he entered flight training. He wanted to be a hotshot pilot, but he became a navigator. He was assigned to the Air Transport Command with the job of ferrying DC-3s from Long Beach, California to Brisbane, Australia. Traveling by way of Hawaii, “It took up to 24 hours to fly non-stop from Long Beach to Honolulu.”

But DC-3s can’t fly for 24 hours non-stop. “Yes they can if the cargo area is loaded with 44 55-gallon drums of aviation fuel, plus fuel in the wings,” Vic asserted.

When the Korean War broke out, he was recalled into the Air Force. After Korea, he was hired as a salesman by Dictaphone. Following that, he branched off on his own to enter the world of commercial real estate development. His first project was to build a major motel near the University of Washington campus. It went on from there to include three retirement homes in Washington and Oregon, as well as other commercial properties.

Vic was a proud, very active Rotarian. When the Rotary became involved with the Sun Lakes Library, he moved into action. Early on, he asked if anyone had contacted Ed Robson. No one had. Robson was considered untouchable. Vic called for an appointment and got it. “Ed Robson wasn’t untouchable,” he said. “He’s a great guy. I asked for the moon. He didn’t give it to me, but he was generous. And the library was on its way.”

Vic died at his home in Ironwood on April 22, 2015. He was 94.