On October 30, 2023, at age 82, Thomas Joseph Shea introduced himself to Saint Peter with a wave and a smile, clarifying that “my friends call me Tom... you can call me Tom!” punctuated with a characteristic laugh. After a pause, he leaned in to say that the stairs “might not be up to code” and offered to fix it as soon as he could pick up a few tools from his workshop. Tom then continued to make the rounds of the Heavenly host, greeting old friends and family with a hearty slap on the back and regaling new friends with stories of his time spent in the Army’s “Missile Field”.
Tom was born in East St. Louis, ILL in 1941 and raised in Belleville, IL. He attended Belleville Township High School and enlisted in the Army in 1961. A deeply patriotic man, Tom served in the Army for 22 years, over a career that took him around the world from Alaska to California, Oklahoma to Korea and eventually back home to Missouri. In the Army, Tom held many different positions and specialties including Nuclear Missile Specialist, Field Artillery, and Adjutant General. After retiring from a successful Army career, Tom served a second career working for the State of Missouri on government projects throughout the Southeastern Region of the state. He was known for his diligent work ethic and was widely respected for his professional expertise and drive to help others.
Tom represented a generation that could build something from the ground up and fix just about anything. He was the ultimate hobbyist and had a breadth of knowledge in what seemed like every subject. He was intensely curious and liked to work with his hands, driving an endless number of passion projects over the years. You could catch him in his workshop carving figurines, fixing damaged items to look like new, working on a leather holster for one of his grandsons, or watching episodes of “This Old House.”
While Tom loved his projects, his true life passion was his family which he served selflessly, lovingly, and unconditionally. He was always there to help with a project, give a hug, tell a story, or offer encouragement and advice. His love for his family is evident in the way he spent his time, talent, and resources, leaving the model of a spouse, father, and grandfather who loved by doing and giving. When he wasn’t tinkering in his workshop, he could be found supporting his kids in all the extracurricular activities, listening to his oldies, or dancing with Martie in the kitchen. When out around town, he would frequently wave and talk to everyone around him, whether or not he actually knew them. His patriotic service, unconditional love, sense of humor, curiosity, and devotion to family defined his life.
This obituary only begins to tell the story of Tom Shea.
Left to carry on Tom’s legacy is his loving wife, Martha, his children Sandee Richards (Ron) of Ashland, MO, Tom Shea (Christine) of Fayetteville, NC, Sara Lippold (Craig) of Bartlett, IL, Amanda Shea Kryger (August) of Mākaha, HI, and Monica Schubert (Ryan) of Fayetteville, NC., fourteen grandchildren, Jennifer Dunn (Jarrett), Jessica Luxner (Jeff), Julianne Richards, Ronald Richards (Gina), Thomas P. Shea (Magda), Micaela Shea (fiancé-Connor Chambers), Brendan Shea (fiancé-Amanda Clark), Carson, Sydney, and Paige Lippold, Catharine, Adeline, Nick, and Evangeline Schubert, seven great grandchildren, two sisters, Sharon Perry (Scott) of Montgomery Center, VT, Lisa Bell (Rich) of O’Fallon, IL and one brother, Michael Shea (Laura) of Nashua, NH. Tom was preceded in death by his parents, William and Eunice (Gerrish) Shea and sister, Lavona Shea.
Visitation will be Friday, November 17, 2023 from 10:00 a.m. until Noon at Trimble Funeral Homes-Jefferson City. Masonic memorial services will be conducted at 10:30 a.m. Burial will in Fort Leonard Wood Cemetery with military honors scheduled to take place at 2:00 p.m. trimblefunerals.com
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Alzheimer’s Association.