Tom Dearmore, age 76, of Cathlamet, Washington, formerly of Mountain Home and Little Rock, Ark., who retired in 1991 as edictorial director of the San Francisco Examiner, died Friday. He began his newspaper career on his family's weekly nespaper, the Baxter Bulletin at Mountain Home, and wrote editorials for the Washington Star and the Arkansas Gazette before joining the Examiner. The son of Benjamin and Ethel Shiras Dearmore, Thomas Lee Dearmore was born Sept. 11, 1927 in Mountain Home. He attended New Mexico A and M College at Las Cruces, N.M. in an Army Air Corps program and served in the U. S. Air Force from 1944 to 1946, editing the base newspaper at Spokane, Wash. He also attended Drury College at Springfield, MO. He married Reba Byrd on Nov. 5, 1950, and she was a distinguished teacher, accomplished musician and recognized businesswoman in Mountain Home before her husband's career took them out of state. As a young Ozarks newspaper editor-publisher, and member of pioneer homesteading families of Baxter County, Arkansas, Dearmore was friends with Orval Faubus, who published the Huntsville paper in the nearby hills. But after Governor Faubus began to loudly defy federal desegregation orders, the Baxter Bulletin took a stong stand against him. Faubus had placed Dearmore on the state Publicity and Parks Commission and a recent Arkansas newspaper history, ''Community Diaries,'' says Dearmore was told to leave the commission, but ''refusing to do so, he remained, giving trouble to the end of his term.'' In part because of his stand in the desegregation crisis, he became Arkansas' first Nieman Fellow, studying at Harvard University in 1959-1960. During his tenure as co-editor and co-publisher of the Baxter Bulletin with the late Pete Shiras, the paper became the largest weekly in the state and the frequent winner of Arkansas Press Association awards. He left Arkansas to write editorials for The Washington Star in the nation's capital from 1970-1976, honing his writing skills and continuing his study of the national political scene first hand. He returned to his native Arkansas as Associate Editor of the Arkansas Gazette from 1976-1978. He was recruited to a new position created for him as editorial director of the opinion page of the San Francisco Examiner in 1978 and was actively involved in local, state, national and international political issues until his retirement in 1991. In 1980, he was one of five finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished editorial writing and the same year, he won the national Walker Stone Award for distinguished editorial writing from the Scripps-Howard Foundation, on the highest national honors for editorial writers. The judges noted that ''Tom Dearmore is one of those rare editorial writers who wraps his message in the beauty of the language. He makes his editorials so beautiful that they must be opened.'' Reg Murphy, his editor at the Examiner, once wrote that Dearmore ''is one of the best in the business. He has been one of the nation's leading practitioners of editorial writing ever since he started newspapering on the family-owned Baxter Bulletin in Mountain Home, Arkansas. ''His serviced took him from Mountain Home to the Washington Star for the stormy years of the Nixon presidency. It was his editorial writing that distinguished the Star in those days. ''A true craftsman with words, Dearmore bleeds at the keyboard, where he writes an average of a thousand words a day, but he works even harder at reading. His desk is a clutter of everything from the Economist to the New Republic to pamphlets from all the cause groups. A burly, rumpled story-teller, Dearmore is as likely to quote from Rolling Stone as from Ralph Waldo Emerson.'' On his retirement as editorial director of the San Francisco Examiner, Publisher William Randolph Hurst praised Dearmore's ''thousands of editorials'' in his ''award-studded tenure that has had an impact on many issues on both the national and local levels.'' Dearmore was a member of the Society of Professional Jounalist, Society of Nieman Fellows, National Conference of Editorial Writers and American Society of Newspaper Editors. His articles have appeared in the New York Times Sunday Magazine and other magazines. Dearmore was preceded in death by his wife. He survived by a daughter: Diana Dearmore of Woodland, Cal., a San Francisco mortgage banker, and a son, Wahkiakum County Undersheriff Jonathan Dearmore of Naselle, Wash., and Jonathan's wife, Lori, and their daugher Kaelee, Tom Dearmore's beloved granddaughter. Visitation will be from noon-9:00P.M. Tuesday at the Roller Funeral Home in Mountain Home with the family receiving friends from 6-8:00P.M. Funeral Services will be 2:00P.M. Wednesday in the Roller Chapel. Interment with military honors will follow in Mountain Home Cemetery. Memorials may be made to the Mountain Home Cemetery Fund.