Friday, October 16, 2015
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM EDT
Life Story Funeral Homes - Rupert, Durham, Marshall & Gren
409 South Main Street
Vicksburg, MI 49097
Saturday, October 17, 2015
11:00 AM to 12:00 PM EDT
St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church
1150 West Centre
Portage, MI 49024
Saturday, October 17, 2015
12:00 PM to 1:00 PM EDT
St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church
1150 West Centre Ave
Portage, MI 49024
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
6151 Portage Road
Portage, MI 49002
In memo section of the check write: Science Inspiration Fund
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
There is no greater man than one who is patient and kind, loves and provides well for his family, and whose dedication goes beyond most limitations. Tom Johnson was such a man. Tom lived fully and completely. Having his family by his side brought him the greatest joy. No matter what Tom faced, he remained positive and thankful for the days he was blessed with family and friends. Although deeply missed, Tom leaves much to be remembered by those who knew him best.
Although conservative in nature, the 1950s was a time when the American dream was alive and well. An all-time high, the minimum wage was $1.00 per hour, young radio listeners tuned in to Elvis, and drive-in theaters made for great summertime fun. In the city of Kalamazoo, Michigan, business and industry was booming. Yet on March 3, 1958, nothing brightened the days of Dick and Phyllis Johnson more than the birth of their son, Thomas James Johnson.
Tom grew up alongside his two sisters, Kathy and Susan, in Kalamazoo where his father worked for the Upjohn Pharmaceutical Company and his mother for Michigan Bell Telephone Company. As a youngster, Tom loved to sing. At age three his favorite song was, “Has Anyone Seen My Dog Jack”. He liked helping scrape snow off the family car, and playing in the snow always provided fun times. From his earliest beginnings, Tom was a perceptive young boy. When merely five years old, Tom turned to his mother and said, “I think I have a really great dad, don’t you?”
Tom graduated from Comstock High School in 1976. He went on to further his education at Lake Superior State then Kalamazoo Valley Community College where he completed his Associates Degree.
Tom began working for Kal-Aero in 1979, where he met the young woman who captured his heart, Kathy Sehy. In the beginning, Tom convinced his boss’ son to steal her M&M’s off her desk. Tom and Kathy soon began dating, and on June 15, 1984, they were blessed in marriage at St. Joseph Catholic Church. Tom counted the births of his children, Ryan and Amanda, as the greatest days of his life. Together, Tom and Kathy provided a good, loving home for their family.
A fun-loving father, Tom’s desire was for his kids to have fun and he was always involved with their activities. Their family included two dogs, Marshall and Charlie, as well as two cats, Snickers, Mario, and grand-cat Marco. They were never far from Tom’s side. When it came to those he loved and cared about, Tom was truly selfless. He would help anyone in need, and would go out of his way for his wife and children. When his kids were young, Tom escorted Amanda to a father-daughter dance, and immediately after, he headed to Gaylord with Ryan to go snowmobiling. On the way, they encountered a blizzard which led to a couple wrong turns. The result was an 8-hour trip rather than the normal four, with an unintentional detour through Flint.
Tom was always up for an adventure, even when it was a delightful surprise. One morning, Kathy took Tom to breakfast and they ended up at the airport. She had arranged for them to fly to Tampa, Florida to see his cousin, Becky. While there, they visited the aquarium, which was next to a Carnival Cruise ship dock. Tom was so impressed by the size of the ships, he asked his cousin to take a picture of him and Kathy in front of one. He planned to tell the guys at work he went on a cruise. Little did he realize, he would be boarding the ship for a week long cruise, which Kathy and the kids had kept a secret for several months.
Tom and his family also experienced other travel destinations together, such as the time they drove out west where they stayed at a horse ranch in Wyoming. They traveled to Disneyworld when the kids were young, and he held fond memories of the time he, along with his mother and sister, Susan, went on an Alaskan cruise. Every year, Tom and his mother met with extended family in Mackinaw City. As a lover of planes, he enjoyed going to the Battle Creek Air Show every year with his family. On one occasion, he traveled to Reno, Nevada for the Reno Air Races. Tom also enjoyed traveling with friends. In their younger years, Tom and his longtime friend, Ken, shared great experiences in Scotland and England.
Holidays were very important to Tom, as it meant spending more time with his family. Every year at Thanksgiving Tom, Kathy, Ryan, and Amanda would relax and watch the movie, “White Christmas”, even though they all knew the movie by heart and could recite it! Christmastime was always special for Tom. The wonder of the season and the excitement in the air filled Tom’s heart. It seemed he could never buy enough presents for his family and others, but, never wanted anything for himself. Last year, he surprised his kids with a trip to Cincinnati to drive sports cars. The family met in Cincinnati this past May. Tom, Ryan, and Amanda flew around the track in Lamborghinis and Ferraris, while Kathy tried catching them with her camera.
For nearly 25 years, Tom worked for Pfizer. He worked as a formulations operator, and was very proud of working for a company that so diligently sought to help people. While Tom was in the hospital before Labor Day this year, he received medication that eventually helped him get home faster. He then shared with his family that the medicine that was expediting his hospital stay was the exact medication that he and the crew at Pfizer manufactured 4 months prior. Tom insisted on saving the empty medicine bottles so he could share his story with family, friends and co-workers.
Tom was athletic and enjoyed golfing, bowling and tennis. He also played softball, basketball, and hockey as a goalie. When Tom was younger, he and his friends played hockey every chance they got; even through heavy fog at 2:00 AM despite low visibility. Tom enjoyed Michigan football and yelling with Kathy at the Detroit Lions on Sundays.
Classic cars were another joy to Tom. He often went to car shows where he loved talking with each car’s owner about their story and the history of their vehicles. He also loved airplanes. Any time Tom heard the rumble of a vintage aircraft in the distance, he would immediately run outside and look to the sky to see if he could catch a glimpse of what was flying overhead. He could easily tell the type of plane just by the sound. Tom was also a music lover and enjoyed listening to most music, especially classic rock. Movies were another passion of Tom’s. He especially loved old movies, particularly those about World War II, and he was an avid James Bond movie fan.
Although Tom had many things he loved, it was his distinct nature that made him so easy to love and admire. He was very caring, and an extremely patient man. With his quick wit and great sense of humor, it was always a delight to share his company. Tom lived by the rules and often did things because it was simply the right thing to do. To Tom, life was for living, and he did so quite happily with his family. With unending love, he never ceased in being there for them. Tom had cancer for the last 20 years, yet he remained selfless; never bringing it up or feeling sorry for himself. A sure example of his commitment, strength of character and integrity, Tom will be lovingly remembered for these things and so much more.
Tom J. Johnson, age 57 of Scotts passed away on October 13, 2015. Members of his family include his wife: Kathy Johnson; son, Ryan (Katie) Johnson; daughter, Amanda Johnson; his mother, Phyllis Johnson; and his sisters: Kathy (David) Fevig and Susan (Joel) Michaud-Garb. He is preceded in death by his father, Dick Johnson. Visitation will be held on Friday, October 16, 2015 from 4-7 PM at the Life Story Funeral Home-Vicksburg (409 S. Main St. 2679-649-1697). The funeral Mass will be held on Saturday, October 17, 2015, 12 noon at St. Catherine’s with visitation one hour prior. Please visit Tom’s personal memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you can sign his guestbook before coming to the funeral home and share a memory with his family. Those who wish may make a memorial donation to the Air Zoo (Science Inspiration Fund).