Obituary of Thomas Chaffin
Thomas Frank Chaffin unexpectedly passed away in Santa Cruz on November 19, 2018. He was 61 years old. Tom was born on April 3, 1957 in Boston, Massachusetts to Daniel and Sarah Chaffin. Tom grew up in Marin County and made his home in Santa Cruz with his wife Gail, and their two children, Jacob and Emily.
Tom was a beloved husband, father, son, brother, uncle, friend, and law partner. He was well-known for his razor-sharp wit, interminable pursuit of excellence in whatever he undertook and for his compassion for others. He was a life-long learner who read history books for fun and could turn any event into an educational seminar.
Tom had a deep intellectual curiosity and general interest in an incredible range of subjects. It was difficult to find a subject he did not know a great deal about. Tom was caring, generous, and always willing to help others. He gave generously to the Second Harvest Food Bank, Red Cross, and Planned Parenthood. He was well liked and respected by all those fortunate to meet him. Tom was physically active and enjoyed nature and sports; he loved all the activities that California offers. He was a loyal fan to his California sports teams and a regular at Warriors, Sharks, Giants and 49er games. His favorite places to visit were Tahoe and Maui, where he enjoyed running, biking, hiking and watching sunsets.
Tom was a swimmer and math whiz in high school and graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara with a B.A in Economics and Accounting in 1980. He was an active member of Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity. He earned his J.D. with honors in 1983 from University of San Francisco Law School. He also earned his LLM in taxation from New York University in 1984. Professionally, Tom was past chairperson of the Tax Section of the Santa Clara County Bar Association and a member of the Executive Committee of the Business Law Section. He also served as a member of the adjunct faculty at Golden Gate University, teaching in the Graduate School of Taxation.
Tom was a partner at the Pillsbury law firm since 2000 in the corporate, securities, and transactions group in their Silicon Valley Office. Prior to that he practiced for more than a decade in San Jose at other firms, after beginning his career in San Francisco. Tom was more than a skillful, practical, and creative attorney; his clients viewed him as a counselor in the truest sense of the word, often advising and counseling them on matters that went far beyond purely legal issues as a valued member of their executive team. Reflective of the high esteem his colleagues held for him, Tom was the Managing Partner of the Pillsbury Silicon Valley Office.
Tom is survived by his wife Gail Pellerin and their children Emily and Jacob, his father Daniel, his brother and sister David and Nancy, and his several nieces and nephews.
A celebration of Tom’s life will be held at 10am, Sunday, December 9, at Temple Beth El, 3055 Porter Gulch Road, in Aptos. In lieu of flowers, the family has kindly requested that donations be made to the Second Harvest Food Bank in Santa Cruz or Santa Clara counties.