Tom Pendowski

September 17, 1938 - July 25, 2015
Kalamazoo, MI



Wednesday, July 29, 2015
2:00 PM to 6:00 PM EDT
Life Story Funeral Homes - Betzler
Kalamazoo Location
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
(269) 375-2900

There will be a prayer service at 6 pm

Driving Directions


Thursday, July 30, 2015
11:00 AM EDT
St. John Bosco Parish
23830 Front Street
Mattawan, MI 49071
(269) 668-3312

Burial at Hope Cemetery. Following the burial, food and fellowship will be shared back at the church hall.

Web Site


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.

Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan
222 N. Kalamazoo Mall, Ste. 100
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
(269) 345-0273
Driving Directions
Web Site


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

1830 S. Westnedge
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
(269) 349-4961
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


One couldn’t help but love and admire Tom Pendowski. He worked hard, liked to keep busy, and when given the chance to know him, his joy was contagious. Despite setbacks in his life, Tom lived fully and completely at every opportunity. He held the love of family close to his heart, and enjoyed the many friendships he made throughout the years. Although deeply missed, a special part of Tom will remain in the hearts of those he leaves behind.

The year 1938 overflowed with mixed blessings in America. While the U.S made great economic strides after the hardships of the Great Depression, an unwelcome recession found unemployment rates once again reaching drastic levels. The struggles of this generation found relief from everyday worries enjoying the sounds of jazz. Superman made his debut in the comic strips, and movie greats filled the big screen. Amidst these changing times in East Chicago, Indiana, Arthur and Jean (Filipowski) Pendowski anticipated the birth of their third child, and on September 17, 1938, they were blessed with the birth of their son, Thomas.

The youngest of three, Thomas joined his older siblings, Art and Rita. Although Thomas was born physically and mentally challenged, he was well loved and cared for by his family. His father worked at a local steel mill in Northern Indiana while his mother, a homemaker, remained at home with Thomas and his siblings. Thomas was an integral part of their family. They encouraged and challenged him to do things which enabled him to experience life to the best of his ability. No holding back, he was lovingly given the opportunity to live in the best way possible, surrounded by love.

Tom was about six years old when his brother, Art was taking music lessons. Just like Tom, he went right up to the piano and played exactly what his brother did. Even though he couldn’t read music, he had the gift of playing by ear and memorization. Along with the piano, Tom was also good at playing the accordion and organ. Music continued to be a large part of Tom’s life. He especially enjoyed Polish music, and Rhapsody in Blue. As a youngster, Tom’s mother taught him how to knit and crochet rugs. He also made latch hook rugs, and later as an adult he sold much of what he made. A true artist, he was talented in many respects.

Family was always a very important part of Tom’s life. Having been raised in faith, he remained devoted to his Catholic religion and loved to perform his own church services at home when he was unable to attend regular mass. When his grandfather died when Tom was 12 years old, he and his family moved to Paw Paw, Michigan to help his grandmother run their farm. Tom had a love for swinging, particularly the tree swing on the farm. As a member of a family largely rooted in the construction profession, Tom often was the unofficial construction manager. He loved to be a part of any project, he loved helping and he made sure nobody forgot what needed to be finished. Additionally, every Saturday night was reserved for the Lawrence Welk show as he loved watching the dancers and the music played on the show.

When it came to food, Tom was quite fond of the traditional Polish meals his mother often made, and he loved pasta. Macaroni and cheese and spaghetti were his all-time favorites. Mexican cuisine didn’t sit well with Tom, he didn’t care for it much and made everyone aware of it. Each year for his birthday, Tom always looked forward to going to the county fair. He loved the rides and food offered there, such as caramel corn, onion rings, cotton candy, elephant ears and anything else he could get his hands on! Almost fearless, Tom absolutely loved going to Cedar Point and riding all the roller coasters.

Through the years, Tom worked a variety of jobs. He liked working at Red Lobster for a time wrapping silverware, and preferred keeping busy to get things done. He had aspirations of having a home of his own home one day, and wanted to save money to do so. For many years, Tom lived in a residential group home. He remained there during the week, and on the weekends he enjoyed living with various family members who lovingly took him in. He possessed a remarkable memory for dates, and never hesitated in assisting family members and others when they struggled to remember an important date.

Ever lovable and kind, Tom Pendowski was a blessing to those around him. He brightened the days of many with his joy of life, and simply loved everyone he came to know. Tom was not only a blessing, he was truly a miracle. Not expected to live long, Tom defied the odds and graced everyone who came to know and love him for 76, wonderful years. He leaves much to be remembered and will be dearly missed.

Tom Pendowski passed away on Saturday, July 25th, 2015. He is survived by his sister, Rita Watson; six nephews: Mike (Andrea) Pendowski, Joe Pendowski, Greg (Cathy) Pendowski, Tony (Lisa) Pendowski, Matt (Deanna) Watson, Mark (Jolie) Watson; four nieces: Cindy (Perry) Stoppa, Jean (Jim) Garland, Tammy Jozo, Annette (Bob) Nelson; several great nieces and nephews.

Visitation with Tom’s family will take place from 2-6 pm on Wednesday, July 29, 2015 at the Life Story Funeral Home, Betzler-Kalamazoo (375-2900) with a Prayer Service at 6:00 pm. The Mass of Christian Burial will be at 11:00 am on Thursday, July 30, 2015 at St. John Bosco Parish, 23830 Front Street in Mattawan. Please visit Tom’s personal memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you can share a favorite memory or photo and sign his online guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made in Tom’s memory to Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan.