A lifelong resident of Worthington — except for his four-year stint within the U.S. Air Drive, throughout which he was stationed at Nellis Air Drive Base in Las Vegas, Nevada — Tom was a neighborhood fixture who appeared to know everyone. He was a strolling historian, described one good friend. And if Tom Tracy didn’t know you, you maybe knew of him or, on the very least, the fort he constructed round his Worthington residence.
A protracted-time commander of the native Honor Guard, Tom Tracy died Nov. 30 resulting from problems from COVID-19. He was 78.
Ron Schuett was one among his long-time pals and neighbors, for a time renting the upstairs residence in Tom’s home earlier than getting married.
“My girlfriend — now spouse, Cheryl — lived three homes down,” Schuett mentioned. “I’ve identified Tom for 36 years.”
A few of their earliest recollections had been Saturday morning “bull periods” over espresso at Perkins.
“I really thought once I retire in a pair, three years, I’d return to Perkins and Tom and I’d be having espresso,” shared Schuett, who likened Tom to a giant brother. “My complete household, they deal with him like he’s household, too. My nieces and nephews simply thought the world of him.”
Tom had a particular knack with neighborhood youngsters, who would usually knock on his door and coax him out to play.
Schuett recalled occasions when he’d hear the youngsters screaming and laughing outdoors, look out the window and see Tom chasing them down the sidewalk, hollering “Luuuunch!”
The children adored him — a sentiment shared by Al and Diane Gerdes, who lived proper subsequent door to Tom for almost 29 years.
“He got here to the entire children’ birthday events and commencement events,” shared Diane Gerdes. “Any household gatherings, we had all the time included Tom. He was simply a part of our household. All of us love Tom loads.”
Tom known as the Gerdes’ canine, Junior, Junior Leaping Bean as a result of each time he stopped over, the canine would instantly leap into his arms. When their children had been youthful, they’d intentionally attempt to hit the baseball over Tom’s fort fence, only for an excuse to go inside and go searching.
“You couldn’t ask for a greater neighbor — a greater particular person,” Gerdes mentioned, including that she’d identified Tom since about age 10, as he was pals together with her older brother, Butch Buntjer. “I don’t assume I’ve ever identified anybody else like Tom my complete life.”
Each neighbors mentioned Tom was all the time there to assist with a undertaking, provide every part from a substitute window to nails and screws, and would watch their home whereas they had been away. They did the identical for him.
Schuett shared Tom’s love for bikes — Tom was a member of the El Forastero Bike Membership — however Tom additionally had a ardour for trains (he lived close to the Union Pacific Railroad tracks) and incessantly demonstrated blacksmithing at Worthington’s Pioneer Village.
Tom additionally appreciated to tinker, a trait solid at his household’s residence within the Cherry Level neighborhood.
If a series broke on a swing in Cherry Level Park, the youngsters would knock on the door of Lula Tracy (Tom’s mom) and ask if Tom might come out and repair it.
“He’d say, ‘I’ll be over to repair it — you by no means understand how lengthy it would take the town boys to get there,’” Schuett shared.
Carol Pospisil and her siblings, Connie Ostrem and Jerry Meinders, grew up neighbors to the Tracy household in Cherry Level. Their mom and Lula had been finest buddies, shared Pospisil.
In newer years, Pospisil would see Tom on the Nobles County Historic Society. If she had any questions on Cherry Level, he would have the reply.
“He might keep in mind every part and he was a paperboy, too — that made him know everyone,” she mentioned.
Ostrem’s favourite recollections of Tom had been as a toddler, when Tom and his brother, Mike, would be a part of the youngsters at Cherry Level Park. The park had an outdated, wood merry-go-round and the Tracys would holler out, “Who needs a journey?”
“Each child inside listening to distance would get on that merry-go-round,” Ostrem mentioned, and Mike and Tom would begin pushing. “They’d have that sucker spinning and we’d go ceaselessly, it appeared like. It was all the time enjoyable.”
Meinders mentioned the youngsters in Cherry Level known as themselves the Pointers. He mentioned Tom — 5 years his senior — was somebody everybody appeared as much as.
“Tom was an especially beneficiant particular person,” he mentioned. “If he was an especially rich particular person, he would have given cash away hand over fist. He gave himself. We must always all be so remembered for touching individuals’s lives.”
Terry Morrison served alongside Tom within the native Honor Guard for a few years. Morrison started taking part in Faucets for the Honor Guard within the late Nineteen Sixties after coming back from the U.S. Air Drive.
“Tom wasn’t on the Honor Guard then; I knew him, although,” Morrison mentioned, including that his earliest recollections had been of Tom working as a bouncer at Hatfield’s, a well-liked teen hangout, within the early Nineteen Sixties.
Tom was commander of the native Legion Put up when he was compelled to volunteer with the Honor Guard.
“Obligation, Honor, Nation — that’s simply pressed into the mind of anyone that’s been within the service,” Morrison mentioned. Veterans like Tom lived by that motto — he’d assist anybody in want.
Morrison mentioned Tom shall be remembered for his friendliness and cheerfulness.
“The authenticity that the person mirrored the entire time — that’s simply the way in which it was with him,” he mentioned.
As Honor Guard commander, it was Tom who offered the folded flag of a fallen comrade to the household. Morrison mentioned as Tom did so, remaining Honor Guard members stood at consideration. Generally, they held their pose somewhat — or loads — longer as a result of it was a household Tom knew.
“It was completely superb when Tom would current the flag to the surviving partner,” added fellow Honor Guard member Steve Ahlberg. “They liked him — they gave him large hugs. He had an excellent rapport with these households, and it was heartwarming to see that.”
Ahlberg will now step into these footwear as commander, having stuffed in for Tom up to now.
The 2 had been longtime pals, and Ahlberg would usually tease Tom about his initiatives and collections.
“I all the time mentioned, ‘Tracy, you’re probably the most optimistic particular person on the earth since you gained’t stay lengthy sufficient to finish all of it,’” shared Ahlberg. “He might repurpose something, or he thought he might, however he ran out of time.”
When Bruce McKinnon was tasked with planning the 40-year class reunion in 2000, mutual good friend and classmate Robert Rohrer put him involved with Tom Tracy. McKinnon, of Everett, Washington, hadn’t actually identified Tom at school, however he wanted somebody native to make the connections concerning location, logistics and actions for the category reunion.
The 40-year reunion went so effectively, the pair masterminded — with assist from others — the forty fifth, fiftieth and the 60-year class reunion that was to happen in the course of the 2020 King Turkey Day weekend. For the 60-year bash, they deliberate a three-day occasion.
“Tom mentioned he can be glad to do it as a result of Tom will assist everyone on every part,” McKinnon shared. “There’s in all probability no one extra caring and extra delicate than Tom Tracy.”
McKinnon known as Tom his hero — a person who would assist anybody, younger or outdated.
“He’s a giver and never a taker,” McKinnon mentioned. “That’s simply who he’s.”
McKinnon hadn’t spoken with Tom for 3 weeks when he noticed a social media publish inquiring about Tom’s well being. It was then he realized his good friend and classmate was hospitalized with COVID-19.
“When you’d speak to God proper now, He’d say He’s despatched three billion individuals down there and this one’s distinctive,” McKinnon mentioned. “St. Peter would say, ‘Your time was rather well spent — you helped lots of people.’”
“What a legacy that will be,” McKinnon added. “I used to be proud to be his good friend.”