Thomas J. Smith, 60, of Neenah, died November 5, 2021 at Theda Clark Medical Center, after suffering a catastrophic stroke. Tom was born on March 2, 1961 to Everett and Hattie Smith. He graduated from Hortonville High School and attended the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
In his younger years, Tom was an accomplished musician and played trumpet in many orchestras and jazz ensembles. He later combined his love of music with his fondness for ballroom dance, owning and operating Dance Tec Studio in both Oshkosh and Menasha. Tom was a popular dance instructor and enjoyed the friendships he developed with his many students.
Tom always had a nurturing place in his heart for individuals with special needs or conditions. He never judged people on their past, their weaknesses or disabilities. Instead, he assisted them and encouraged them to reach their highest potential. When his knees told him it was time to hang up his dancing shoes, Tom seamlessly transitioned to a career in caregiving, working in various public and private settings. Eventually, he purchased and was administrator for his own adult family home, Harbor Hope, Inc., which provides services for men with developmental disabilities. Tom truly adored his residents, as they did him.
In addition to running his own group home, Tom was also employed by Villa Hope, Inc., a residential treatment and mental health agency for adults. Always a favorite among residents and staff, Tom had a generous and gentle heart and would do anything for anyone. He was a friend to all.
Those left behind to cherish his memory include his fiancée, Tracy Sandberg, with whom he shared many years of love and laughter; his best friend, Darlene Kennedy, who was like a mother to him; his beloved “boys” at his group home; a sister-in-law, Lori Smith; a nephew, Justin (Amber) Smith; and a niece, Meghan (David) Miller. He is further survived by many dear friends and colleagues.
Preceding Tom in death were his parents; his brother, Steven Smith; and his brother, Richard Weck.
Funeral services for Tom will be held at Wichmann Laemmrich Funeral Home, 312 Milwaukee Street, Menasha on Tuesday, November 23rd at 6:00 PM with Pastor Tom Gonzalez officiating. Memorial visitation will be held at the funeral home from 4:00 PM until the time of services. Private interment at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorials to the Oshkosh Area Humane Society in Tom’s name are appreciated. Tom’s family encourages those visiting to wear masks.
We wish to express our gratitude to the Theda Clark Emergency and Intensive Care Units for their professionalism and compassion during Tom’s final days. Special thanks to Tom’s friends, Bill, Sean, Tasha, Willis, Jumuah, Troy, and Lindy for their loyalty and unwavering support. You meant the world to him.