Friday, September 18, 2015
5:00 PM to 8:00 PM EDT
Life Story Funeral Homes - Betzler
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Food and refreshments will be served.
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.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
All who knew Thomas Ouding would agree that he made the world around him a better place. He was kindhearted, thoughtful, and generous beyond measure with an insatiable desire to serve those around him in ways both great and small. A devoted family man, Tom always said that he was lucky to find love not once, but twice, and he was overjoyed to witness his family tree blossom to include the numerous branches of loved ones who were his greatest source of pride and joy. Never one to worry about the things of this world, he focused his time and attention on living life and making sure that everyone around him did, too. Life will never be the same without Tom here, but he leaves behind a timeless legacy that exemplifies what it means to help others.
During the first half of the 1940s, the eyes of our nation were focused overseas as WWII raged on, and it was after the vicious attack on our naval base in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, that America was engaged in the fight for the preservation of the freedoms that we still enjoy today. Amidst this eventful time was the year 1943 when Robert and Stella (Kolodziejczyk) Ouding were pleased to announce the birth of the son they named Thomas on September 3rd. He was the third of seven children as he was raised in the family home in Comstock, Michigan, alongside his older brothers, Robert and Stanley, and his younger siblings, Donna, Dorothy, Darlene, and Rick. His father was a farmer while his mother was a busy homemaker.
In many ways, Tom was a young boy of his generation. He enjoyed the companionship of his dog, Skip, and although he worked hard, Tom also enjoyed working on the celery farms. They never really had much, but he was thrilled when he received a new Schwinn and a new ball glove in the same summer. As a teen, some of his best friends were Bud, Bill, and Bernie, and together they had fun cruising Schwartzes. A student in Kalamazoo, Tom graduated from Kalamazoo Christian in 1961, and he later became a master electrician in 1976. Also as a young man, he served as an E4 in the United States Army from March 1964 to March of 1966. He was stationed at Fort Lewis in Washington State. Tom did enjoy his days in the service and while on leave he explored the Pacific Northwest.
Not to be forgotten during his years as a young man was Tom’s introduction to the woman who would change the course of his life forever. Her name was Mary, and they fell deeply in love. With a desire to establish a life together, Tom and Mary were married in 1967. He was an outstanding husband and father to their three children, Matt, Mark, and Michael. In 1990, Tom was deeply saddened with Mary’s death. As a single father, he continued raising their sons with the same values that she had already instilled within them.
To support his family, Tom was a member of the local 131 IBEW for 46 years as an electrician. He also served two terms as president of the local union. Tom worked in various roles during his career including as a project manager for over 25 years. Tom was responsible for many regular customers including General Motors, Toyota, and Minute Maid, he chaired the apprentice committee from 1980 to 1995, and helped several individuals establish their own careers. Tom was a well respected member of the local union as well as a friend and mentor to many coworkers.
New and exciting changes were in store for Tom when a romance blossomed with Glenda whom he had met at church several years earlier. They began dating and in 2003, they were married. Together with her two children, Danielle and Chad, they formed a family of seven who shared plenty of laughter and love over the years. However, Tom’s favorite role was being Grandpa Tom to his six beautiful grandchildren. He mastered the art of spoiling his grandchildren and liked to say that grandchildren are the award for not killing your own children!
A man of many interests, Tom was always busy doing something. He and his kids took several fun road trips, and later in life he and Glenda traveled extensively. Among their favorite trips were their annual trip to Mexico, a trip to Europe, and spending winters on the beach in Treasure Island, Florida, in recent years. Tom was an avid golfer and a member of several leagues over the years. Also as a member of the community he loved, he was a 32 year board member of the KPEP organization, which helps young felons transition back into society, a longtime member of the St. Joseph Church Board. In addition, Tom was the past exalted ruler of the Three Rivers Elk Club. He was always very proud to serve his community through these organizations. As his family and friends can attest, Tom was a devoted Tigers fan since if a game was on, he was either watching it or listening to it.
Known for his positive outlook in everything, Thomas Ouding had a contagious zest for life. He was fully committed to helping others, and he was always content to help without accepting any credit for his work. Tom was quick to say, "I have many advantages in my life, and helping others keeps me humble,” and among his favorite sayings was, “Time to get home and milk the chickens.” Fun-loving, generous, and always willing to accept those around him, Tom was the sort of person whom everyone wanted to know. He will be deeply missed but never forgotten.
Thomas Ouding died on September 15, 2015. Tom’s family includes his wife, Glenda Ouding; children: Matt Ouding, Mark (Therese) Ouding, Danielle (Charlie) Sweet, Michael (Bob) Ouding, and Chad Teske; 6 grandchildren: Lauren and Samantha Ouding, Josh Raith and Emily Ouding, and Faith and Olivia Sweet; and 2 siblings: Darlene (Brian) Root and Rick Ouding and many nieces and nephews. Tom was preceded in death by his first wife, Mary, and by 4 siblings: Robert, Stanley, Dorothy and Donna. Visit with family and friends while sharing food and refreshments on Friday from 5-8 p.m. at the Life Story Funeral Homes, Betzler – Kalamazoo; 6080 Stadium Drive (375-2900), where services will be held on Saturday at 11 a.m. Burial with military honors will take place at Mt. Olivet Cemetery. 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 the West Michigan Cancer Center.