Thomas J. “Tommy” Tana, a retired wine salesman who also had been a sports official, died of pneumonia July 10 at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center. The Perry Hall resident, who earlier had lived in Highlandtown and Dundalk, was 76.
“Tommy was a connoisseur and one of the better-known wine guys in the state,” said Charles S. Zannino, the owner of Charles S. Zannino Funeral Service in Highlandtown and a longtime friend. “He was such a gentleman and had a dynamic personality that was as big in stature as he was. You can’t say anything bad about a guy like that who was just a super guy.”
Thomas John Tana, the third of six children, was the son of John Tana, a Bethlehem Steel Corp. steelworker, and Lucy Tana, a homemaker. He was born in Baltimore and raised in the 400 block of East Pratt Street in Highlandtown.
He attended the old Our Lady of Pompeii parochial school from kindergarten through the ninth grade, then became a student at Patterson High School, where he excelled in sports. In 1963, he earned all-state honors as a punter for the school’s football team, and enjoyed playing soccer, baseball and football at nearby Patterson Park.
After graduating in 1964, he began his college studies at the University of Baltimore, where he played varsity soccer.
After leaving UB, shortly after his 21st birthday in 1966, Mr. Tana was drafted. He completed basic training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, then was deployed to Korea. He served with the 1st Battalion of the 23rd Infantry Division until being discharged in 1968.
Being an oenophile led Mr. Tana to a professional career selling fine wines,
Mr. Tana returned to Baltimore, then moved to Rockville, where he began working as a wine distributor. During his 50-year career, he worked for Churchill Distributors, Reliable Churchill Distributors, Sutton Place Gourmet and Beltway Fine Wines, now Total Wines, until retiring in 2018.
His territory included Washington, Maryland and Virginia, where he called on restaurants and liquor stores, family members said.
“With his jovial personality, Tom formed many relationships with not only restaurant and liquor store owners but also with many patrons,” according to a biographical profile submitted by his family.
Mr. Zannino’s uncle, Andrea L. Mastellone, and his wife, the former Margaret Rose Zannino, whom he married in 1956, had been proprietors of Mastellone Deli & Wine Shop on Harford Road in Northeast Baltimore.
Wine was a particular interest of Mr. Mastellone’s, who could speak authoritatively about his vast inventory of barolos, barbarescos, astis, sangiovese and dolcettos from Italy, making his business one of the premier wine destinations in the Baltimore area.
“He used to call on my uncle, who schooled and groomed him,” recalled Mr. Zannino. “He wanted to educate him.”
Mr. Tana had a second career as a referee for 30 years, beginning in youth sports and then in professional sports.
“Tom has officiated at all levels of competition from the Baltimore City and county youth associations to the University of Maryland and even the Ravens,” according to his biographical profile.
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In retirement, Mr. Tana, who was elected to the Patterson High School Hall of Fame in 2010, became active in the school’s alumni association, for which he had served as vice president and treasurer. He was also involved with its enrollment, financial transactions, newsletter and other activities, family members said.
Mr. Tana, who was a world traveler, made multiple trips to Italy and Europe with his family. He also enjoyed attending family birthday parties, weddings and other gatherings.
“Tom and his wife were always offering a helping hand whenever asked, even adopting dogs from the ASPCA and other adoption agencies and offering a warm bed whenever someone was in need,” according to the biographical profile.
“Tommy was just a good neighborhood guy,” Mr. Zannino said.
His wife of 24 years, the former Dorothy Anne “Dee” Hajewski, a former Baltimore public schools vice principal, died in 2021.
He was a communicant of St. Stephen Roman Catholic Church in Kingsville, where a Mass of Christian Burial was offered July 15.
Mr. Tana is survived by his son, Thomas Alexander “Alex” Tana of Annandale, Virginia; a stepdaughter, Laura A. “Laurie” Dorsey Mellinger of Cockeysville; a brother, Frederick “Freddie” Tana of Lewes, Delaware; three sisters, Clara Tana Weber of Dundalk, Lucille T. Philip of Bel Air and Maryann Tana of Milford, Delaware; and a granddaughter. Earlier marriages to Margaret Tana and Charlene Prochaska ended in divorce.