Cartoonist, photographer and magazine publishing veteran Tom Medley, 93, passed away on the morning of March 3, after being hospitalized for over a week. Medley was two-and-a-half weeks shy of his 94th birthday on March 20.
Medley joined Hot Rod Magazine as “humor editor” in 1948. His Stroker McGurk cartoon was a feature of HRM since its third issue. Medley was also responsible for many photographs appearing in the publication, including some classic early cover shots. He wrote how-to articles, sold ads and designed pages.
In the mid-1960s, Medley became the publisher of Rod & Custom, steering the magazine’s editorial direction toward street rods and “vintage tin.” He helped usher in the modern era of street rodding.
In 1969, Medley and writer LeRoi “Tex” Smith organized the first Street Rod Nationals in Peoria, Ill. The two men were great friends. Later, in the early 1980, Smith became the publisher of Old Cars Weekly. Medley paid several visits to OCW’s home in Iola, Wis., to see his old friend. Often he made the trip in his hot rod, following visits to the Hot Rod Nationals in Minneapolis, Minn.
Medley was born in Oregon. After a stint in the U.S. Army during World War II, he relocated to Southern California to attend the Art Center School of Design in Pasadena. It was while he was a student there that he first became involved with hot rods. His hot-rod-themed sketches, pinned on the bulletin board at Blair’s Speed Shop in Pasadena caught the attention of Robert E. Petersen, who had recently launched his magazine called Hot Rod.