Celebration of the Life of
Thomas F. Moran, III
Presented by TERRY R. WEST, Past President,
at Rotary Club on January 26, 2016
Thomas F. Moran III, passed away on November 15, 2015 at the age of 80 after a brief illness. He was born in Lafayette on October 14, 1935 and was a resident of this community most of his life, except for a short time in Indianapolis where he had a job repossessing autos from delinquent owners. He soon moved back to Lafayette to work for National Homes Acceptance Corporation. During that period he finished the interior of the home delivered to his lot in two vans from National Homes. Tom and Ruth lived there in Rainybrook Subdivision until both of them passed away a year and a half apart.
Tom worked as the sales manager for Glick Realty after leaving National Homes and Ruth helped with closing houses for the company. Tom’s final employment was with Perry Chemical and Manufacturing Company where he served as Vice President and Sales Manager, until his last years there when he became the Interim President. Tom retired from earned employment but not from service to the community as shown later in this discussion.
Tom’s dad died when he was 4 and he was raised by a house full of women, his mother, sister and a black housekeeper. He was proud of his heritage and of the history of Lafayette. Tom’s grandfather, Thomas Moran I was a history professor at Purdue and the first president of the Lafayette Rotary Club. His father Thomas II was a successful attorney in Lafayette who died young from diabetes. He grew up on 9th street hill across from the Ball mansion. Tom was attracted to Central Presbyterian Church where he met Rev. Ernie Yorger who became his surrogate father. Ernie taught the Craft Shop at Central and showed Tom how to use tools and solve problems. Tom would take over this role in the Craft Shop in the basement of Central and taught many children of the church, including my own, how to make useful items from wood and metal. Tom later became responsible for his ward, Phil Yorger, son of Ernie and Lois, for many years, who was mentally challenged, until Phil died several years ago.
Tom graduated from Jefferson High School and went onto Purdue where he joined Beta Theta Pi, serving as President his senior year. For a period of time, Tom lived in the University Presbyterian Church where he worked as janitor and general maintenance man for the property. He met Ruth Swanson in his senior year and they were married two years later in 1960 after Ruth graduated. They raised four children, Kathy, Virginia, Kent and Leslie, and they had seven grandchildren.
Tom was a dedicated volunteer. He was involved at Central Church serving on all three leadership boards, but the role of Trustee was his primary function, as he knew every nook and cranny of the facility. He was active in Rotary as its President during the 75th anniversary, and served currently as its Treasurer and friendly check in person at the meetings. He was also involved with the Lafayette Symphony Foundation and the Guild, his fraternity Beta Theta Pi, Meals on Wheels, The Tippecanoe Historical Association, Home Hospital Fair, Civic Theater, and the Tippecanoe Fly Fishers Association.
Tom and Ruth practiced a special hospitality their whole married lives. They welcomed people into their home and had a knack for making their guests comfortable. They were generous with food and drink and pleasant conversation. For many years they hosted a dinner at Easter, inviting 70 or more guests to their home most of whom were affiliated with Central Presbyterian Church. They kept a scrap book of signatures and photos of those who attended over the years where one could review the history of past Easter celebrations. Tom continued this event for two years after Ruth’s passing.
As Tom would say, he was a fair mechanic. He could fix anything and kept a tool box in the back of his van to fix things for others. He and his children did carpentry, fixed leaky toilets and faucets, raked leaves, hung dry wall, painted, built shelves, refinished furniture, rewired electrical circuits and changed oil in their cars. Ruth would request Tom to make major renovations to their home, building a screened in back porch, doubling the size of the opening from the dining room to the living room and building a daylight basement entrance, and Tom would accomplish it. He was also involved with major construction projects for the two houses his son owned in Lafayette.
Tom and Ruth loved to travel and mainly overseas. She was employed as a travel agent for Irvine Travel for many years. She and Tom planned a series of trips to Europe leading sizeable groups of people. They visited Israel, Australia/New Zealand, Europe and Alaska. In later years they traveled with family and friends, to Hawaii, Mexico, Brazil, Costa Rica, England, Ireland, France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Turkey, Spain and Gibraltar. The Meeks family, plus the West’s and McCullen’s were their companions on numerous occasions. Tom could adapt to challenging driving conditions in foreign countries, a round-about in London, with a stick shift and right hand drive, or up a narrow gravel road to the top of Gibraltar or on the rural roads of France with confusing arrows giving directions.
A few years ago, several of Tom’s friends nominated him for a George Award from the Journal and Courier newspaper. He was not selected for the award, as long-term volunteering efforts didn’t seem to compare favorably with the larger, one-time accomplishments that were selected.
Tom was a special human being, always a reliable volunteer who could accomplish any task. He will be missed by many of us in the Lafayette community.