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Life Story / Obituary
Although he accomplished so much of which to be proud, Thomas Carr was a humble man whose joy was found in brightening the days of those around him. He had a quick wit with a fun-loving personality, and his zest for life was contagious to all who were near. Blessed to share the majority of his life with his true love, Tom treasured his roles as a husband and father, but it was really something when he became a grandfather. Social and outgoing, he was the heartbeat wherever he went, and Tom never met a stranger. Life will never be the same without him here, but he leaves behind a timeless legacy that his loved ones will proudly carry on in his footsteps.
The year 1929 is often recalled as the year that the crash of the stock market sent our nation and much of the world spiraling down into the depths of the Great Depression. The years that followed were anything but easy as jobs were hard to come by and countless Americans lost their homes. It was just prior to that historic day in October of 1929 that Oliver Benjamin and Elizabeth (King) Carr were pleased to announce the birth of the baby boy they named Thomas J. on July 7, 1929, in Muskegon, Michigan. He was the third of four children in his family that included his brothers, Paul and John, and his sister, Elizabeth. Sadly, John died in infancy. His father was a machinist while his mother worked as a switchboard operator in Muskegon. The Carr family home was located in a Polish neighborhood where all the neighborhood kids were out playing most of the time. Tom played some baseball and some football, and while attending Muskegon High School he played quarterback, kicker, and catcher on the school baseball team. Highly athletic, he also played basketball and ran track.
After graduating from high school in 1947, Tom was drafted by the Chicago White Sox as a young boy of 18. He played in Seminole, Oklahoma, and then in Wisconsin Rapids, part of the Wisconsin state league. Tom played catcher and his buddy from high school, Don Westcott, was also drafted as a pitcher right along with him. His baseball career lasted about a year when he ended up hurting his arm in a throwing contest after not being properly warmed up. Tom moved back to the area and did some odd jobs before enlisting in the Air Force in 1951. After a coin toss determined whether he would enter the Navy or Air Force, he was sent to Sampson AFB, in Geneva, NY, for his training, and he ended up being there for four years. While there Tom earned the rank of Staff Sgt. in administration, logistics, and origination. Tom’s time in the military spanned from 1951 through 1955. Once again a civilian, he attended Muskegon Junior College for two years and then transferred to Western Michigan University where he majored in history and minored in political science.
New and exciting changes were in store for Tom when he met the young woman of his dreams. Her name was Margaret Ginter, and they met while they were both student teaching in Muskegon in February 1959. Tom and Marge sat across from one another, and sparks flew right from the start. Their first date was supposed to be at a boat show, but bad roads brought them to Pasco’s Restaurant in Muskegon instead. Tom bragged to his buddies about how she was such a catch since she liked sports. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together they were married on August 15, 1959, at St. Jean’s Rectory in Muskegon with a reception in St. Joseph. The newlyweds then went to Quebec for their honeymoon.
Tom and Marge taught in the Muskegon area for two years while also taking graduate classes. In 1961, they moved to Kalamazoo so that Tom could finish school at Western Michigan University. They ran a section of a resident hall for athletes, and Tom earned his Master’s Degree in counseling in 1962. He worked in the housing office and then worked his way to auxiliary and then operations. Tom was responsible for many improvements there over the years. While working as dorm director for a year they lived on campus, but they ended up raising their family on Edinburgh Street in Kalamazoo. Tom retired as associate vice president of operations in 1989.
First and foremost in Tom’s life was his family. Together he and Marge had two children, Jeffrey and Julie. Tom was an active part of his children’s lives as he was there for all of their school and sports activities. He also helped his kids practice their sports and served as an umpire as well.
Someone who loved being busy, Tom was a man of many interests. He and Marge traveled extensively to places like the British Isles, Germany, and to Canada several times including to Quebec for their 50th anniversary. They almost always drove, and as a history buff Tom always knew everything about wherever they went. During their retirement years he and Marge just drove here and there for the overall experience of it. As someone who loved photography, Tom often documented their trips with tons of slides, and he also photographed birds and wildlife. Social and outgoing, he loved having the neighbors over and was known for knocking on his neighbors’ doors on a Friday night to gather people for an impromptu night of fun! Tom enjoyed golfing and also got into running in his forties. He watched all sports and was a fan of all things Bronco, University of Michigan football, and the Detroit Tigers. Both Tom and Marge loved musicals, and he liked operas. He liked old fashioned cooking, Chinese food, and also breakfast food, and he liked drinking Bud or a glass of wine. As someone who was always ready to entertain, Tom had the best stocked liquor cabinet. He liked smoking a pipe and had a pipe collection as well as an extensive collection of matchbook covers, beer cans, baseball hats, business cards (he would write the date on back), golf balls, and wine corks. Tom and Marge spent five years living in their condo in Florida where they remained active, but they moved back home to spend time with their grandson, Benjamin, in 1994.
Generous, kindhearted, and genuine, Thomas J. Carr made life so much fun. He was meticulous and had systems for everything while at the same time he was creative as well. Deeply loved, Tom will never be forgotten.
Thomas J. Carr, of Kalamazoo, died July 15, 2016, in Kalamazoo. Tom’s family includes his wife, Margaret Ann Carr; two children: Jeffrey (Trudy) Carr and Julie Carr; grandson, Oliver Benjamin (Clara) Carr; sister, Elizabeth Boerman; and many nieces and nephews. Tom was preceded in death by two brothers: Paul Carr, and John Carr. Cremation will take place. Visit with family and friends while sharing food and drinks on Friday, July 22, 2016, from 5-7 p.m. at the Life Story Funeral Homes, Betzler – Kalamazoo; 6080 Stadium Drive (269-375-2900). Private burial will take place at Mt. Home Cemetery. Please visit Tom’s personal web page at www.lifestorynet.com, where you can archive a favorite memory or photo of him and sign his online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes (901 Portage Street, Kalamazoo, MI, 49001, www.kzoolf.org) or Kalamazoo Humane Society (4239 S. Westnedge Ave., Kalamazoo, MI, 49008, www.kazoohumane.org).
Sunrise - July 7, 1929
Sunset - July 15, 2016