Honoring Tradition.
Celebrating Life.

Thomas Lake

May 13, 1942 - December 21, 2020
Grand Rapids, MI


Life Story / Obituary


All who knew Thomas Lake would agree that he was one of the most kind and generous people around. He was someone who was willing to help anyone whether in ways great or small no matter the personal sacrifice. A more devoted husband and father would be hard to find, and there was nothing that made Tom more proud than becoming a grandfather later in life. Although he will be deeply missed, he leaves behind a timeless legacy that his loved ones will proudly carry on in his footsteps.

During the first half of the 1940s, the eyes of our nation were focused overseas as WWII raged on. Countless young servicemen and women had answered the call to serve, and those who remained stateside became familiar with rationing on several common goods. Amidst this eventful time was a time of great anticipation in the lives of Donald and Marie (Ressell) Lake as they were eagerly awaiting the arrival of their new baby as the beauty of spring began to unfold in May of 1942. The big day finally arrived on May 13th when the baby boy they named Thomas Edward drew his first breath.

The only child in his family, Tom was a typical young boy of his generation and was raised in the family home in the Burton Heights area of Grand Rapids, Michigan. His father worked as a machinist who made bread slicing machines while his mother focused her time and attention on being a wife, mother, and homemaker. Tom always had a chicken or a rabbit, and he made them rather calm by frequently petting them. As a student he attended Buchanan Elementary and then went on to South High School.

After graduating in 1960, Tom wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. Although he didn’t have a job, his mother was ready for him to move out so he went to his aunt’s house for a couple of weeks. Soon, Tom enlisted in the Army. He spent about two-and-a-half years stationed in Germany where he worked in communications. He enjoyed the camaraderie, and he made many fond memories while there. With his military duties fulfilled, Tom returned home. His father got him a job at Oliver Machinery. After 20 years there, Tom worked for Nucraft Furniture until he retired in the 1990s.

New and exciting changes were in store for Tom when he met the young woman who would forever hold the key to his heart. Her name was Dorothy Schichtel, and they met on a blind date playing cards with friends in 1968. Smitten, Tom asked her out for coffee the very next day. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together the couple was married on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1969, at St. James Church in Grand Rapids. After a honeymoon up at the Mackinac Bridge, the couple retuned home and settled into an apartment on Valley, NW. While Tom continued working at Oliver, Dorothy worked for a local doctor. Together they welcomed two children, Jennifer and Don, into their hearts and home. They spent 25 years raising their family at their home on Elmwood, NE, and they later built a home on Line Drive Ct, NE. This is the place they called home for the past 24 years.

There was nothing that was ever more important to Tom than spending time with his family. They spent a lot of time on Little Pine Island where his aunt and grandma had a cottage, and later his parents had a place there as well. Tom and Don spent many hours fishing together there over the years. There were memorable family trips to the Wisconsin Dells and also to Disney World and Sea World in Florida. It has been said that Tom taught his children to drive at a young age. Tom really enjoyed just being home, and when he was with family Tom was almost always the one making everyone laugh as he told the best stories. Later in life he was filled with unspeakable joy to become a grandfather, and he was so proud to have a grandson to carry on the family name. It was easy to see that Tom’s grandchildren were the light of his world, and he was so proud of each one of them.

In his free time, Tom had several things he enjoyed. For years he liked golfing with his friend, Jim Tomaszewski. Tom did enjoy deer hunting, but truth be told he didn’t sit very still so he usually ended up scaring away most of the deer. He liked cribbage and strategy games, and he also enjoyed reading war stories, cowboy westerns, and history. When it came to his favorite foods, he was all about the candy and chocolate chips. Once he had knee and back surgery, Tom developed COPD, which decreased his mobility over time. Arthritis later set in, and his health only declined further from there.

When reflecting on the life of Thomas Lake, it is easy to see the deep love and devotion he had for his family. He was always willing to help a family member, friend, or neighbor, and he maintained an active lifestyle for much of his life. Life will never be the same without him here, but Tom will never be forgotten.