Thomas J. VanLieshout, age 75, passed away on April 2, 2023. Tom was born June 6, 1947, to Leon and Kathleen (Conlon) VanLieshout. He grew up in Kaukauna and was a known party animal throughout his youth and certainly early adulthood. In May of 1977, Tom met the woman who was destined to become the love of his life and his constant companion. It was the long evening of conversation “perfect ending” to a double date (with other people) for both of them. The couple married in 1978, welcoming Jan’s daughter Jessica to his life with unconditional love. Two years later, the couple welcomed another daughter Trisha.
Tom was ever the entrepreneur, and in high school started a “garage pizza business,” which became Mark & Tom’s Pizza, where they were known for being “Hot and Fast.” Following that, he started a furniture business, Furnishing’s Unlimited which he grew for the next 30 years. When he sold that business, his love of fire trucks expanded (a love he had from an early age) to restoring, upgrading, and fixing them. That passion extended beyond his restoring hobby, and he was known around Legend Lake in Keshena as the guy with the fire truck on the beach. He loved to spray passing boats with lake water using his fire truck!
Tom’s inner child came out with daughter Jess; he was known to play horsey with her, using her dress ties as reins. This of course, resulted in broken flowerpots on the stairs. Daughter Trisha’s memories of Saturday morning breakfasts on the way to work at the furniture store included lessons learned about good business practices, a healthy work ethic and incorporating compassion into your character.
Tom was opinionated, passionate and never short of the words to convey his feelings. He always wanted to know how things were going in the lives of his girls; always wanted them to know he loved them and the granddogs (because they didn’t talk back). Time spent on the deck at the cottage were filled with friends and family just hanging around, being together. He also loved to spend time on the floor playing with the dogs and grandchildren.
Tom is survived by his wife of 44 years Jan, his daughters Jess (Ben) Jagoe and Trisha (Tim) Williams; grandchildren: Andrew, William, Eleanor, Kaitlyn, Henry Thomas and granddogs: Murphy, Myla, and Brewer. He is further survived by his sister Constance DeBruin.
He is preceded in passing by his parents, his in laws: Lloyd and Anne DeWall and his first granddog Cooper.
A funeral service will be held for Tom on Friday April 7, 2023, at 9:00am at Wichmann Funeral Home, 537 N Superior Street, Appleton. A visitation will be held from 10:00am until 1:00pm at the funeral home. Tom will be entombed at Highland Memorial Park, Appleton. A celebration of life will be held during the summer of 2023.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the American Heart Association in Tom’s name.