OBITUARY: Thomas Dunsmuir, Four-time Emmy Winner and a Longtime Palisadian

Tom Dunsmuir

April 23, 1938 – December 30, 2019

Thomas Duncan Dunsmuir, 81, passed away peacefully at home on December 30, 2019, surrounded by his family.

He was born in Rochester, New York, where he met and married his wife Joan in 1964. He graduated from Georgetown University and earned a master’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University.

Tom, a 44-year resident of Pacific Palisades, moved here from Mamaroneck, New York, with his family.

He was an award-winning copywriter for advertising agencies in New York and Los Angeles. As a writer with the Children’s Television Workshop, his songs and stories for “The Electric Company” and “Sesame Street” earned him four Emmy Awards.

He authored several children’s books, including “You Can’t Milk a Dancing Cow,” “Fargo North Decoder,” “There’s No Place Like Home,” “Love of Chair” and “A Cure for the Meanies.” 

“Fernwood 2-Night” fans appreciated Tom’s writing in the sit-com created by Norman Lear. He also wrote episodes for “The Love Boat,” “America 2-Night,”  “Three’s Company” and “Good Times.”

Tom was beloved for his humor, gregariousness and open-hearted nature. These qualities, along with his innate understanding of and love for children, were cherished not only by family and friends, but also by young viewers and readers of his work.

In his later years, Tom developed dementia, and was fortunate to be able to remain living at home, cared for by his wife and by skilled and loving caregivers. He attended Opica Adult Day Care for eight years, where he received outstanding memory care support and was encouraged to express his creativity through painting as his language skills declined.

Tom will be lovingly remembered by his wife of 55 years, Joan; his four daughters, Katie, Ryan, Sara and Maggie; his sons-in-law Jayme Younger and Eugene Cho; his four grandchildren, Tallulah, Bodhi, Beatrice and Roland; his sister Jean and her husband David Donahue; his sister-in-law Nancy Gourley; and his many nieces and nephews.

A memorial for Tom will be held on Sunday, February 16 at 3 p.m. at the Woman’s Club, 901 Haverford Ave. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating in Tom’s memory to Opica Adult Day Center (visit:

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