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Jeremy DeMaso College Education Fund
Life Story / Obituary
A selfless man who placed the needs of others before his own, Tom DeMaso was a well-loved father, grandfather, son, brother, and friend. It brought Tom great joy to be there for his family and good friends with a helping hand, a word of encouragement or just plain, sound advice. In the hearts of those who knew Tom best, he was easy-going, fun-loving, and outgoing, all rolled into one special man. Although life without Tom will never be the same, his memory continues to live on.
Tom’s story began at a time when families began thriving and experiencing the American dream. The end of the Korean War, more and more families were moving their lifestyles to the suburbs all while enjoying an age of innocence. By 1953, local unions gathered strength in numbers in the workforce while many advances were made in the field of medicine. It was an exciting year altogether, especially for Augustine “Harry” and Mary Jayne DeMaso when on May 27, 1953, they welcomed the birth of their son, Thomas Eugene DeMaso.
Born and raised in Battle Creek, Michigan, Tom grew up on LaVista Boulevard in the very home his grandfather built. Tom joined his older brother, David who was a little over three years old when Tom came along. Although he may have been younger than his brother, Tom was the bigger of the boys. As youngsters, when Tom caught wind that a neighborhood bully was picking on David, Tom handled it. In fact, since that encounter, no one ever messed with either of the DeMaso boys again! Even though he and his brother had their share of sibling rivalry while growing up, they always had each other’s backs. Just as similar as they were uniquely different, Tom and David came to share a good, brotherly friendship as adults.
Tom’s father was a Republican State Senator in Michigan and it wasn’t uncommon for Tom and his brother to join their father and mother on the campaign trail. During his father’s career, Tom and his family met many well-known politicians, governors, and even a sitting President. To Tom, it was not intimidating in the least as it was just a normal part of growing up in their household. While David was extremely proud of his father, he preferred staying out of the spotlight. Tom, on the other hand, liked being known as the “Senator’s son”. His friends often referred to him as “Harry, Jr.”, and not only did Tom look like his father, he was equally as passionate as his father. He had the gift of gab and he loved to talk.
Tom also loved a good debate and could easily challenge one’s thinking. Before graduating in 1971 from Battle Creek Lakeview High School, Tom was a member of the debate team. Following high school, Tom went on to further his education. He attended Kellogg Community College, Louisiana University, the University of Wisconsin, and Northern Michigan University. In school, he studied business and played much golf. Although he never officially graduated, he had more than enough credits accumulated to have earned his bachelor’s degree.
After landing a job working for the Township of Battle Creek in his late twenties, Tom befriended Arlene, a young woman he eventually married for a brief time. When his career began to take off, he took a position with the Calhoun County Road Commission where he remained for several years. During this time in Tom’s life, he was very active in a bowling league, a golf league, and participated in slow pitch softball. It was through some of these activities Tom was involved in that he met many of his good, lifelong friends. They included his best friend and partner in crime, Mike Henry, Sr., who Tom affectionately nicknamed, “Condo”, and his close friend over the years, Tom Pastor.
In May of 1985, Tom realized love again after meeting Pamela Lynn Simmons at Nottke’s Bowling Alley while league bowling. They were happily married on May 3, 1986, and together they shared the birth of Tom’s only child, his son, Bryan Roger Thomas DeMaso. Tom eventually pursued a career in sales as a third party merchandiser working for Quality Sets and Service and McBride Merchandising Company which found Tom moving his family to Northern Indiana, just outside of Fort Wayne. After 14 years, Tom’s marriage to Pamela also ended in divorce yet he was forever grateful for the son they shared from their union. He returned to Battle Creek and gladly raised his son, Bryan as a single father.
Life as Tom knew drastically changed in March of 2009 when he suffered a massive heart attack. After undergoing open heart surgery and many hours of physical therapy, Tom was able to resume a normal life after a time. Tom stated on more than one occasion that his heart attack “got his attention real quick!”
Tom’s parents eventually divorced, and after several years of their aging mother living on her own, Tom and his brother came to realize she could no longer live independently, so Tom decided to retire to help care for his mother. He felt it only right to help his mother in her golden years, just as she had always been available to help Tom or Bryan when the need arose. Tom was a wonderful caregiver for his mother. Over the last few years, he even lived with her which allowed Tom to better care for his mother. In addition to the loving care he provided his mother, Tom soon became close to his stepmother, Marie, as well. She never had any children, and Tom gladly served as her go-to person any time she had any questions.
One of the happiest days of Tom’s life was March 27, 2014, the day he became a grandfather. His son and his girlfriend, Amber had been blessed with the birth of Jeremy Thomas DeMaso, and together they raised Jeremy along with Amber’s three other children, Chelsea, Lauren and David. Tom accepted all if these children as his own to play with and spoil like any loving grandfather would. He also served as a loving example of fatherly love and as a mentor to Amber. Tom enjoyed his own unique relationship with each member of his family and he gladly became the problem solver and go-to person for everyone in Bryan’s family, too. Tom He often babysat Jeremy for his son and Amber, along with taking Chelsea to school each day.
Between raising Bryan on his own, caring for his mother and helping his son with the responsibilities that come along with fatherhood, Tom placed his personal life on hold, and he would not have wanted it any other way. Through the years Tom and his son formed a close friendship, too. It wasn’t uncommon for Tom to call Bryan and suggest they go to the “casino” to make a “deposit”, which in all reality was code for, “I need a break. Let’s go play!” They also bantered about sports, especially the Patriots & Yankees.
Tom’s life ended abruptly after a week of being ill. He went into the hospital with an intestinal virus, and within 48 hours he became septic and an emergency colostomy was performed. Things began looking up for his health until the infection began attacking his extremities and internal organs. Even though Tom was sedated and kept comfortable, he fought up to the very end. Sadly, Tom died at 4:11 a.m. at Borgess Hospital with his son by his side.
Tom DeMaso was ever giving, and then some. He placed the needs of others before his own, and he did so with a grateful, servant’s heart. Tom’s greatest love was his family, and they were the driving force in everything he did. Tom was always there for those he loved and cared about, and his legacy continues in the hearts and lives of those he leaves behind.
Mr. Thomas Eugene DeMaso, age 63, passed away Friday, November 11, 2016. SURVIVORS: Son, Bryan Roger Thomas (Amber Burk) DeMaso; grandchildren, Jeremy, Chelsea, Lauren, and David; mother, Mary Jayne DeMaso; brother, Dr. David (Dr. Heather Walter) DeMaso; niece and nephews, Christine, Jeffrey and Timothy; stepmother, Marie DeMaso; Tom’s former wives, Arlene DeMaso and Pam DeMaso; his best friends, Mike Henry Sr. and Tom Pastor; many aunts, uncles and cousins. He was preceded in death by his father, Harry in 2015. CELEBRATION OF LIFE: Sunday, December 4, 2016, 2:00 p.m. at Riverside Golf Club, 245 E. Columbus, Battle Creek MI. MEMORIAL: Jeremy DeMaso College Education Fund. To share a favorite memory or photo of Tom and to sign his online guestbook, please visit www.clockfuneralhome.com.