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Life Story / Obituary
Hardworking and kind Thomas McAfee lived his life centered in faith and family. A naturally humble man, Tom welcomed each day’s joys and challenges equally. A devoted father and proud grandfather, Tom embraced his roles with honor and enthusiasm leading his family by example and celebrating each day as a gift. While he will be deeply missed, Tom will long be remembered in the hearts and lives of those who knew him best.
Despite the obvious gloom of the Great Depression, 1935 gave birth to many celebrated firsts. While reeling in the heartache of Black Sunday, our nation’s 20.1% unemployment rate and the gathering war clouds as Germany passed the Nuremberg laws, Americans found much hope in Amelia Earhart’s’ first solo Pacific flight, the inventions of parking meters, fluorescent tubes for light, and the game of Monopoly, as well as the first Orange Bowl, first Pacific Airmail delivery, and the first Technicolor film; Mickey Mouse. In Frankewing, Tennessee, Paul and Sue (Luna) McAfee held much hope for the future as they celebrated the birth of their son Thomas on October 11th.
After serving in the Navy his father worked as an electrical contractor and his mother a homemaker. Tom learned the values of discipline, hard work, and resiliency from a very early age. As the family moved quite frequently, Tom had many “hometowns” throughout Tennessee including Lewisburg, Petersburg, Cornersville, and Pulaski. While he and his younger sister Barbara learned the art of making new friends with each move, Tom also enjoyed playing football, baseball, and running track.
After graduating from Cornersville High School in 1953, Tom attended the College of Commerce in South Bend, Indiana. It was here that Tom had the good fortune of meeting his wife Fran. While sidelined with a broken ankle, Tom saw a group of four ladies walking down the hall at school one day. Fran stood out to him immediately, and Tom mustered his courage to ask her out. After dating for a time, the couple married in 1955 in South Bend, Indiana.
Over the course of their 18-year marriage, Tom and Fran were blessed with the births of four children: Debi, Lori, Mick, and Cindi. Early working years were spent at the family business, KRT in South Haven. Later, Tom supported his family through his work as a supervisor at Trendway Office Furniture in Holland most of his life. While the family enjoyed special trips to New Orleans and Houston, it was the wonder of the farm that held the happiest memories for Tom and his children. The cattle farm was always a flurry of outdoor activity. Whether tending to the cattle, riding the pony, or meandering the land with the dog, a good time was always waiting at the door. Many a winter day was spent tobogganing behind the barn and summers were filled with chores. Tom wrestled a hornet’s nest once while fixing a fence post. As he accidentally hit the nest a flurry of guardians set forth a furious attack that required Tom to jump over the gate and run to freedom. When not tending to the chores, Tom was known to blissfully wile away many an hour lovingly tending to his garden, nurturing each plant and relishing in his harvest.
A man who thoroughly enjoyed life’s simple pleasures, Tom found great satisfaction in collecting woodworking planes, reading, listening to Charlie Pride and Johnny Cash, watching the Grand Ole Opry, and indulging in sweets. While he very much enjoyed a good meal of biscuits and gravy or freshly cooked grits, nothing nourished him more than time spent with his children and grandchildren. Tom’s heart’s delight was his family. He was a proud father and grandfather who did his best to attend every possible function and cheer on each of their endeavors. In Tom’s eyes they always knew they were loved, believed in, and important.
Tom was also a devoted servant of his faith family. As a long time member of Hope Lutheran Church in Plainwell, Tom served in just about every possible position he could. The fellowship at Hope Lutheran was truly gifted by this good man’s call to service.
Whether meandering through the back roads to see what he could see, tending his garden, or sharing a meal with his family, Tom treasured life’s simple pleasures. He loved a good project, watching things grow, and a fine piece of chocolate. Though the world seems less certain in the absence of Tom’s steadfast presence, may we find comfort in our cherished memories and the knowledge that we carry the best of his legacy in our hearts where it will continue to inspire others.
Thomas McAfee “Tom,” age 82 of Kalamazoo went to be with the Lord on November 26, 2017, at the Wing’s Home in Allegan. Tom was born on Oct. 11, 1935, to Paul and Sue (Luna) McAfee. Visit with his family and friends on Friday, Dec. 1 from 10:00 to 11:00 at the Hope Lutheran Church in Plainwell; 290 12th St, Plainwell, MI 49080. A memorial service will follow at 11:00 at the same location. Tom’s family includes his children: Debi (Dan) Witte, Lori (Ken) Lee, Mick McAfee, Cindi McAfee; 13 grandchildren; 5 great-grandchildren with one on the way; his sister Barb (Butch) Arndt as well as several cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents. Please visit Tom’s memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you can read his life story, archive a memory or photo and sign his memory book online. Memorial donations can be made to Wings of Hope Hospice, West Michigan Cancer Center or Hope Lutheran Church in Plainwell.