Thomas Eugene Slusser, 69
A memorial service for Thomas Eugene Slusser, 69, of Rockford, Illinois, will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24, at Saunders & McFarlin Funeral Home in Harvard, Illinois, with Pastor Darrell Bendorf officiating. A memorial gathering will be held from 4 p.m. until service time Tuesday at the funeral home. A celebration of Mr. Slusser’s life will be held on the Green’s Mill Historical Bridge in in Roach, Missouri, at 1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26. Mr. Slusser died peacefully in the care of family at his home in Rockford on Sept. 18.
He was born May 12, 1950, in Wichita, Kansas, the son of Max and Martha June Moulder Slusser. He grew up with his four sisters and brother in Cheney, Kansas, where he loved to fish, hunt, swim and play sports. He graduated from Cheney High School in 1968 and was a member of two local rock bands, The Rubber Band and The Cheney Beatles. He enlisted in the Navy in 1969 and became a Naval hospital corpsman assigned to the Marines Corps’ Minefield Maintenance unit at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. After being honorably discharged in 1973, he married his former wife, Patricia Tabel. They returned to Kansas before moving to Des Moines, Iowa, where he began a long career in the auto industry, quickly working his way up from salesman to sales manager at Dick Hazelbaker Chevrolet.
After moving to Illinois, his dream of owning a car dealership was realized in 1986 when he opened Tom Slusser Ford in Harvard, Illinois, at the age of 36. He later owned and operated Complete Auto Reconditioning System until his retirement.
Mr. Slusser was a devoted and loving father and grandfather. He taught his children to fish, ski and play golf, and he spent countless hours in the driveway with them playing catch and shooting hoops. He transformed his Brown Street yard into a winter wonderland for Christmas and a haunted graveyard every Halloween. He coached his daughter’s HERS softball teams and took several fishing trips with his son. Since the birth of his three granddaughters, he has lived in Illinois, Missouri and Kansas but 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 his granddaughters on the Rock River. Even as his health declined, he never missed an opportunity to make his granddaughters laugh.
He was someone who 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 the Harvard Lions Club. Ever the storyteller, he wrote numerous poems and 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 and the Wichita State Shockers Basketball team. He enjoyed scuba diving, snorkeling, downhill skiing, snowmobiling, golf and bowling and was even veen bungee jumping a time or two.
He is survived by his children, Tammi Thomos and husband Dean and Tommy Slusser; his grandchildren, Helena, Vanessa and Brianna Thomos; his siblings, Phyllis Slusser, Donnis Slusser Crane, Lonetta Bartell, Marla Seachris and husband Steve, and Rusty Slusser and wife Donna; six nieces and five nephews; 20 great-nieces and great-nephews; and three great-great-“niecettes.”
He was preceded in death by his parents and his niece, Emily Slusser.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Green’s Mill Historical Bridge, P.O. Box 485, Linn Creek, MO 65052, or online at greensmillhistoricalbridge.com.
Condolences may be expressed at saundersmcfarlin.net.
Saunders & McFarlin Funeral Home, Harvard, Illinois, directors.
Paid obituary as submitted by family