Thomas Eugene Slusser, 69, died peacefully in the care of family at his home in Rockford, IL on Wednesday, September 18, 2019.
Tom was born May 12, 1950, in Wichita, Kansas to Martha June (Moulder) & Max Slusser. He grew up in Cheney, Kansas with his four sisters and brother, where he loved to fish, hunt, swim & play sports. He graduated from Cheney High School in 1968 and was a member of not one, but two local rock sensations, The Rubber Band & The Cheney Beatles. Tom enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1969. He trained in both Great Lakes, Illinois & San Diego, California and became a Naval Hospital Corpsman. He was assigned to the U.S. Marines Corps Minefield Maintenance unit at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. After being honorably discharged from the Navy in 1973, Tom married his former spouse, Patricia Tabel, and returned back to Kansas before moving to Des Moines, Iowa. It was in Des Moines where Tom began his long career in the auto industry. He quickly worked his way from salesman to sales manager at Dick Hazelbaker Chevrolet, and shortly after, his daughter, Tammi, was born in 1978. Tom moved to Illinois where his son, Tommy, was born in 1985. His dream of owning a car dealership was realized the following year when he opened Tom Slusser Ford in Harvard, Illinois at the age of 36. Tom later owned and operated Complete Auto Reconditioning System (C.A.R.S.) repairing vehicle paint damage up until his retirement.
Tom was first and foremost a devoted and loving father and grandfather. He taught his children to fish, ski, play golf, and spent countless hours in the driveway playing catch & shooting hoops. He transformed his Brown Street yard into a winter wonderland for Christmas and a haunted graveyard every Halloween. Tom coached his daughter’s H.E.R.S. softball teams and took numerous fishing trips with his son. Since Tom’s three granddaughters were born, he has lived in Illinois, Missouri & Kansas, yet their Papa never missed a birthday party, holiday, dance recital or musical, even if it meant driving all night to get there. Many summer days were spent fishing with Papa on the Rock River. Even as Tom’s health declined, he never missed an opportunity to make his granddaughters laugh.
Tom could walk into a room of strangers and leave knowing everyone there. He always had a fantastic story and was quick with a joke. He participated in several civil and philanthropic groups, including and especially the Harvard Lion’s Club. Ever the storyteller, he wrote numerous poems, short stories and recently authored a book “Stories of the Old Testament as Told by Papa”. He was an avid fisherman who frequently traveled to participate in professional tournaments or just drown a worm with friends. He was a lifelong sports fan, mainly following the Kansas City Royals, the Chicago Bears, the Chicago Cubs & Wichita State Shockers Basketball. Tom enjoyed scuba diving, snorkeling, downhill skiing, snowmobiling, golf, bowling, and was even seen bungee jumping a time or two.
Tom is survived by his children, Tammi (Dean) Thomos and Tommy Slusser, his grandchildren, Helena, Vanessa, and Brianna Thomos, his siblings Phyllis Slusser, Donnis Slusser Crane, Lonetta Bartell, Marla (Steve) Seachris, and Rusty (Donna) Slusser, 6 nieces, 5 nephews, 20 great-nieces & nephews, and 3 great-great niecettes. He was preceded in death by his parents, Martha June & Max Slusser and his niece, Emily Slusser.
The memorial gathering will be from 4pm until the memorial service at 7pm on Tuesday, September 24, at Saunders & McFarlin Funeral Home, 107 W. Sumner St., Harvard, IL 60033. Pastor Darrell Bendorf will officiate. A celebration of Tom’s life will be held in Roach, MO on the Green’s Mill Historical Bridge on Thursday, September 26 at 1pm.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Green’s Mill Historical Bridge, P.O. Box 485, Linn Creek, MO, 65052 or online at https://greensmillhistoricalbridge.com/support-the-cause
Family and friends may sign the online guest book at www.saundersmcfarlin.net.
Call the funeral home for more info at 815-943-5400.
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