Tom was born in Munich, Germany, where his father was assigned as a career Army officer. The first of four children, the family moved through a series of military assignments and finally settled in Bloomington, Minnesota when Major Netherton retired in 1961.
Even though Tom knew he loved music, show business was not his primary interest. During his junior year in High School, as a joke, Tom and his buddies dared one another to audition for the school's musical production, "Brigadoon", the schools musical production that year. He climbed up on stage, sang "Almost Like Being in Love". The next morning, he was shocked to see his name posted on the bulletin board as the male lead.
Music was only a part of Tom's life. Academics commanded his major interest. He was President of his Senior Class and a foreign exchange student. He spent the summer months between his junior and senior year in Peru, living in a small town, Puno, 13,000 feet high in the Andes Mountains on Lake Titicaca.
While attending the University of Minnesota, Tom joined a group called "The Edgewater 8", performing in Minneapolis at the Edgewater Inn Supper Club. He was a soloist and group singer.
Later Tom enlisted in the Army and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Infantry. He was assigned to duty in Panama and soon became Plans and Operations Officer for the 193rd Brigade. In his off duty time he sang with the Army and Air Force bands. Tom was promoted to First Lieutenant. In his army career he was awarded the Army, Navy and Air Force Spirit of Honor Medal, and the Army Commendation Medal.
It was in the Army that Tom accepted Christ. Up to that point, the church had been more social than spiritual for him. But, as he sat and listened to a sermon in a local Baptist Church in Panama, Tom met his Saviour.