"Panama" Tom R. Willey's Home Page.

My wife likes to say that our definition of international adventure is EPCOT. She’s probably right.

Born in Balboa, Panama in 1972, I have dual citizenship as a Panamanian and an American citizen. My mother died when I was 3 months old of cancer, and although my father tried to continue on for a few years alone, he eventually decided it was better to bring my older sister and I back to the States. When I was 5 yrs old he remarried and I now have two younger half sisters.

I grew up in the predominantly Hispanic area of Little Havana in Miami, FL. After a relatively normal childhood I left to attend college in Georgia where I met my wife. I eventually left to pursue a career as a professional musician.

After living in North Carolina for over six years I decided to set aside the aspirations of a music career and returned to Florida with my wife. We now have two children of our own – a son and a daughter. I am currently the plant engineer for a commercial glass company, but still play music as the lead guitarist for my church’s praise band.

After rediscovering my love for the Indiana Jones Trilogy I realized how the family stories I had heard all my life read like a script to an adventure film. As a result I recently began the endeavor of collecting and retelling these amazing true stories. In conjunction with my “Son of Adventure” series for The Fedora Chronicles I will be helping my father collect his memoirs for an upcoming book that will be a series of short stories of his time in the field.

My grandfather and grandmother both have books about them – “Never Say Can’t” by Jerry Ballard is Tom Sr.’s biography, and grandmother Mabel’s autobiography is entitled “Beyond the Gate.” These books have been a great cross-referencing aid as I tried to re-tell their stories from my own unique perspective as their grandson.


One of the reason I’m such a fan of the Indiana Jones movies is that my Dad and Grandfather were real life “Indy” style adventurers. Both were missionaries to first Panama, then Cuba and later to Panama again. They were actually in Cuba during the revolution and were ministers on Castro’s death row for several month’s following Fidel’s takeover. My Dad himself personally witnessed over 80 executions of prisoners he worked with at the prison.

Both had harrowing tales of adventures in the jungle that would easily make for exciting action sequences in any Indy movie.

This past holidays I actually got to save some family pictures of them in the field – there’s not a lot of pics of them in “action” but I found a few worth sharing… My Dad in the first shot is just 15 yrs old – 3rd from the left, Grandad the 2nd from the right.  


Another shot of Grandad in Cuba...



  A couple of shots of my Dad in the mountains of Panama during the 60’s

The last is my favorite – Grandad in Panama holding a dead boa as big around as his thigh

(my Dad and aunt on the left) – get this, my grandmother shot it!


(Right to Left) my Dad, my son Ryan and I back in 2005 at his home in Bronson, FL.


Here's a clip of me performing Cream's version of "Crossroads" with a local band back in 2004...


Favorite Music Links:

Eric Johnson
Mark Knopfler
David Gilmour
Dougie Maclean

Favorite Gear/Vendor Links:

Wested Jackets
Todds Costumes
Fender Guitars

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