Thomas Gerard Austin, Walworth, WI (1964-2014)

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December 9, 2014

May 7, 1964 – December 7, 2014

Tom Austin, age 50, went home to be with our Lord and reunite with his dad, Eugene Paul Austin, on Sunday morning Dec. 7, 2014. That he died on the 7th of the month did not surprise his family for Tom was often heard saying, ”7 is my lucky number, it’s my birthday!” Tom was born in Chicago, IL, on May 7, 1964, to Eugene and Margaret Ann Austin. Tom came into this world as one of God’s “special” people, though labeled as Down ’s syndrome because of an extra chromosome in his genetic makeup. To know Tom was to know smiles that never faded. His hugs encompassed the strongest of warmth yet were fragile with tenderness. Tom had a sense of humor that would cause much laughter in the moment! But even the next day, one would recall his wit and humor and smile. At times, Tom would create a vocabulary that was unique to him but those very words would soon be picked up by others and used in their sentences. Tom had a way of removing all walls and barriers and making you feel like the most important person alive. He also had a way of filling a room with laughter when you needed it the most, or he could simply say nothing at all, but either way you felt better because you saw Tom that day. Most of all, Tom was just Tom with a love in his heart beyond measure. We, who knew Tom well, have thanked God for that extra chromosome.

Tom’s family relocated from Oak Park, IL, in 1968, so that he could attend Lakeland School in Elkhorn, WI. He graduated in June of 1983. Following his graduation, Tom worked at Vocational Industries (now known as VIP Services). Tom took great pride in his work at VIP. He was nominated as Worker of the Month in July of 1988 and was selected for the Ambassador Program at VIP. While employed there, Tom also worked as “the popcorn man” each Friday at The Walworth State Bank. He loved being “the popcorn man” for his many friends at the bank; it was one of his treasured passions in life. According to Tom there was no better day of the week than Friday! Regarding his work career, Tom, often reported that he had four jobs: a worker at VIP, an usher at church, one who carried the cross at mass, and a worker at The Golden Years as the V.P. of Recycling. Tom worked as an usher for St. Benedict’s alongside his dad for many years and later was bestowed the honored role of carrying the cross to the alter at the 10:30 mass. As health issues began in Tom’s life, he sadly retired from VIP in 2013, and later from Popcorn Friday’s at the bank in 2014.

Tom was all man when it came to his love of sports. Instant friendships were formed if you, too, were an avid Packers, Badgers, Bucks, or Brewers fan, not to mention those Notre Dame Fightin’ Irish. Countless hours were spent attending games or watching from home. His mother would often hear shouts of joy or disgust when either team would put numbers on the scoreboard! Any songs from the movie, "Grease:, Tom would sing and dance to as well as the entire Beach Boy collection of music. One of Tom’s favorite songs was “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” and in recent years, Tom found great joy from collecting and counting quarters and “Smiley” face stickers. Tom had the ability to find the greatest of pleasure in simple things and truly loved life!

Our family would like to thank both St. Luke’s Medical Center for supporting Tom in his valiant effort to live and the Delavan branch of St. Jude’ Hospice (especially Trish and Taylor Danz) for making Tom’s final journey to heaven such a peaceful experience.

Tom will be greatly missed by his mother; his siblings: Suzanne Wells (Charles), Richard T. Austin (Linda), Lawrence P. Austin (Joanne), Mary Ellen Sanderson (John), Deborah A. Graveen (Jay), Melissa A. Senft (Jamie), and Julie Austin (Steve); in addition to their spouses; 37 nieces and nephews; and 37 great-nieces and nephews. Tom was preceded in death by his father, Eugene; and his two young nephews, Douglas Allen and John Allen.

Visitation for Tom will be at TOYNTON’S FUNERAL HOME in Walworth, WI, from 4 until 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 10th and a Mass on Thursday Dec. 11th at 10 a.m. at ST. BENEDICT’S CATHOLIC CHURCH in Fontana, WI. Interment will be immediately following at the Roselawn Memory Gardens in Lake Geneva, WI. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Lakeland School or VIP Services, both in Elkhorn, WI, to allow the lives of other “special” people to be enriched by the services provided by both of these amazing organizations.


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