Tom Gilje-Zaudke

Tom was born in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 23, 1961, to Francis Gilje. His family relocated to the small town of Hemet in southern California where Tom grew up as a very active outdoorsman. He enjoyed going with his friends to the beach, skateboarding, BMX racing, riding motorcycles, hiking, bouldering, rock climbing and anything else fun that they could do while being outside. 

Tom’s passion was rock climbing. Tom traveled all over the U.S., attempting and completing some of the most difficult climbs out there and creating some of his own unique signature routes along the way. He eventually relocated to Moab where he was able to take full advantage of all the unique outdoor activities that Moab has to offer. 

Tom originally made his living with carpentry, building houses and doing custom cabinetry work. Later on, he started doing some stunt rigging for popular TV shows such as Fear Factor, The X-Games and even a Sports Network show. Then Tom’s life changed forever in November of 2010 when he was injured in a mountain bike accident. In the accident, he broke his neck and almost completely severed his spinal cord, leaving him a quadriplegic for the rest of his life. That didn’t stop him though. He persevered through the ups and downs and was eventually able to live a fulfilling life with the help of his family. 

He found comfort with his life partner, Betty Sue; in his children, Brooke and Kyle; and in his grandchildren, Jeremiah and Benjamin. He also loved his tiny little flock of chickens that we all joked were probably the most spoiled chickens in Moab. 

He was preceded in death by his mother, Fran Gilje.

Tom’s family is devastated by their sudden loss of him. A celebration of life will be held for Tom at a later time to allow the family to grieve and for his friends and acquaintances to make proper arrangements to show their respect. 

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