Friday, July 18, 2014
11:00 AM EDT
St John Episcopal Church
574 Sheldon Road (South of Ann Arbor Trail)
Instate 10AM until time of service
Life Story / Obituary
Thomas Bauman (Uncle Tom) lived a simple yet full life. He was very smart and constantly challenged himself to figure out how to do something that otherwise seemed difficult. He was driven to live as functionally as he could, and he made the best of every situation with his pleasant nature and good humor. Hearing jokes was almost as funny as telling them, and Tom did both. Family and friends delighted to be around Tom, and they made life as sweet for him as he did for them.
Thomas was born to George and Gertrude Bauman in Detroit, Michigan on September 20, 1936 at a time when families were trying to make life pleasant in the midst of harsh conditions. Because of the Depression money was scarce, so people made their own entertainment at home, playing parlor and board games, listening to baseball on the radio, and being inspired by President Franklin Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats. Thomas and his siblings—George and Lucille—grew up at 14622 Westbrook Street with the support of their stay-at-home mother and hard working father, who was employed by DeSoto Glass, a division of Chrysler Corporation.
As a very young child, Tom contracted polio before the advent of the vaccine in the 1950s and became paralyzed on his left side. He was also ill with rheumatic fever that left him partially blind. Tom’s early years consisted of numerous doctor visits and physical therapy, but in spite of his disabilities, he learned to walk, run, ride his bike and do most anything anyone else could do. He played backyard football and baseball with his older brother George and their friends. He also learned to play the trumpet well and used his talent to play in the school band and his family’s musical ensemble. Tom’s father played violin, his mother and sister Lucille played piano and George played banjo, guitar and more. No doubt Tom’s dog Tiny was a great companion every step of the way. Much of Tom’s life revolved around family, and he was happiest when they were around him. As the years progressed, the family grew to include the spouses of his siblings and their children, who all called him “Uncle Tom.”
Tom graduated from Redford High School and maintained a paper route until he was about 25 years old. For the next 30 years, he worked in the mail department for the United Way, where he garnered many stories about his experiences with his mailroom buddies. Walking and taking the bus every day into downtown Detroit, Tom ordered his days in a healthful way. He woke early, exercised (wearing out at least three stationary bikes), read his Bible and prayed, went to work, fixed his meals (Peter Pan peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and onion sandwiches were among his favorites), read avidly (particularly Readers Digest short stories), listened to music, watched TV (sports, Perry Mason, Murder She Wrote, Hunter, Charlie’s Angels and Lawrence Welk), went to bed early and got plenty of sleep in order to resume his active life.
Tom was a vigorous and persistent person. He often rode his bike to his sister’s house, and when he could no longer use a stationary bike indoors, he managed to walk around the basement using a child’s chair as a cane while waiting for his laundry. Later, when stair climbing was too strenuous, he walked around his apartment using that same chair.
Tom went on many trips with his parents or with his siblings and their families: Arizona, Yellowstone National Park, Redwood Forest and Grand Canyon, Irving, Texas and Roswell, Georgia. The holidays were exciting for Tom, made special by the efforts of his mother and then his sister to always have lots of food and fun. Setting up his Christmas village was an important part of Tom’s Christmas tradition. More recently, Thanksgiving dinners were held at Frank’s Diner (Tom loved their ham) and New Year’s Eve became an intimate party at Tom’s apartment. With good food and champagne, the family watched Lawrence Welk's New Year’s Show, which Tom had on tape. In the fall and winter, Tom could be found with at least 32 ounces of Pepsi and several peanut butter sandwiches, seated about 6 inches from the TV (because of his poor eye sight), watching football. Though much-admired coach Vince Lombardi was long gone, the Green Bay Packers remained Tom’s favorite team. His love for the game may have superseded his ability, but Tom’s determination paid off when he learned to throw and catch a football with one hand.
Tom also enjoyed playing cards, and at one time, he and his mother played weekly with Mike and Irma who lived right down the street. Most often they played Pinochle at the Bauman home while Tom’s brother, dad and Dow Touchstone played music in the basement. Tom loved the music of his childhood, especially compositions from the Big Band Era (1936-1945). He collected many of the Reader’s Digest recordings of Glenn Miller and Music of the World’s Great Composers.
Committed to their faith, Tom’s parents had brought him for Baptism to St. James Episcopal Church on December 20, 1936, and he was confirmed at that same church on March 2, 1952. As an active member of St. James, he served as usher and greeter, was a participant in the church’s prayer chain, became godparent to his niece and was a strong supporter of the Church. His church supported him as well. In later years when Tom was unable to attend, he continued to receive holy communion through the generosity of congregants who brought it to him.
Many family members and friends returned the love they felt from Tom. He was always appreciative of the meals they fixed and the time they spent with him. When saying goodbye, he would call out, "I will see you later, the Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise." It was the same when he talked on the phone. Tom made regular calls to his family at a given time each week so that he could catch up on recent events and the doings of his nieces and nephews. With his phenomenal memory, family stories were locked in his mind and heart forever.
Tom was the last of his immediate family, but he leaves behind many nieces, nephews, great and great great nieces and nephews who loved him and had so much fun with him.
Thomas Bauman, age 77, passed away Saturday, July 12, 2014. He was the youngest of 4 children, dearest uncle of several nieces and nephews. He was known as “Uncle Tom. Visitation Thursday 2-8pm at Neely-Turowski Life Story Funeral Home 30200 Five Mile Road (btn Merriman and Middlebelt). Visitation Friday 10-11am at St. John Episcopal Church, 574 Sheldon (south of Ann Arbor Trail) with funeral service at 11am. Interment at Cadillac Memorial Gardens West. Please visit www.TurowskiLifeStory.com where you may sign the guestbook, share a memory or upload a photo.