Golfing Gorilla has passed into legend

South Sound native and “trainer” to local celebrity golfer The Golfing Gorilla, Tom Tuell passed away on December 6, 2020 after a brief battle with cancer. He was 70.

Tom was a lifelong South Puget Sound resident, attending Washington, Hunt, and Wilson High School. He went on to study and play golf at the University of Washington and then graduated from the University of Puget Sound with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education.

He loved to laugh and he loved people. Tom began “training” The Golfing Gorilla in the late 1970s to become a trick-shot artist, and went on to speak, teach and entertain fans at celebrity and high-profile golf tournaments and events around the world. His ability to hit a golf ball prodigious distances while wearing a bulky hairy gorilla suit confounded and delighted fans everywhere, and he became a local and national legend. His talent for the long ball included him in the 350 Club, for players who can drive the ball 350+ yards.

Also a talented writer, Tom penned a column for The Tacoma News Tribune for many years about the stories behind personalized license plates around Puget Sound.

A staple at Al Davies Boys & Girls Club and Stadium High basketball games, he loved watching his son play for many years. Tom is survived by his children, grandchildren, numerous nieces and nephews and friends, and by all the fans who were entertained and made to enjoy life by the Golfing Gorilla.

(See full obituary here, courtesy Tacoma News Tribune and