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Thomas Szilage

1920 ~ 2022 (age 102)


Thomas Szilage had fun celebrating his 102nd birthday with family on January 11,2022. Sixteen days later he left this earth to go be with his Anne.

She passed away November3, 2019. They had been married for 74 very happy years. She always called him Tommie.

Born in Aurora, Illinois in 1920 to Romanian immigrants George and Mary, he was the youngest of his brothers George, John, Louie, Steve, and sister Mary.

He had many fond memories of growing up in a close-knit Romanian community near the Fox River. He learned to swim when his brothers threw him in and said swim.  His Mom was a great influence on him. She held the family together through the Great Depression.

They had a small grocery store with a big butcher block where they sold frozen bananas dipped in chocolate. They gardened and raised pigeons. They even made and sold liquor from the back door to make ends meet.

They had a big  three-story house next door to Saint Mary’s Catholic Church. Tommie used to sneak out in the alley to play marbles.  She lined the boys up every Sunday in her big kitchen to clean their ears. He loved having his ears cleaned for the rest of his life.

At the age of 17 he left home to work selling shoes in Indianapolis.  He worked very hard-earned promotions and was transferred to Lexington and then to Omaha.
He was not drafted due to a broken eardrum suffered while boxing with his high school friend Oogie. Later at the height of WW2 in 1945 he was drafted again.  When he told his boss that he was leaving to serve in the Army, his boss told him not to go. He was the head of the area draft board and Tom was indispensable to his business.
As a result, he stayed in Omaha where he met Anne. They were married there December 1, 1945.  He was promoted and transferred to York, Pa to manage the shoe department at The Bonton Department Store.  The owner Tom Grumbacher noticed him and hired him as a buyer and later promoted him to General Merchandise Manager.
Tom left the Bonton to buy Fellers Men’s and Boy’s Store in Harrisburg. He built it into a chain of stores throughout the region.
Tom was always all about family and working hard to provide for them.  He was a wonderful father to his son Jeff and daughter Debbie. Unlike many men of his generation, he had no problem letting them know how much he loved them.
In addition to working hard Tom and Anne played hard. They took many family trips to the mountains and the beaches. They danced, played bridge, and had many close friends.
His best friend Dr. Wayne Shaulis invited him to go to Canada bear hunting. Jeff bought him a Manlicher Shanauer 3006 precision rifle.
Wayne had been hunting bear for years and never got one. He practiced at the shooting range every week.
Tom went to the range once. He shot a bear  on his first trip right between the eyes at 100 yards from a boat.
In 1987 he retired and moved to St. Petersburg, Florida where Anne and Tom lived a few blocks from son Jeff and his wife Kandy.
Tom and Jeff worked on many projects together.  They adored their cat Fluffy and Maltese Charlie ( a gift from Granddaughter Kim)
He had four grandchildren and nine great grandchildren. They all got to know him and love him.  His first granddaughter Tiffani spent time every summer in York with Tom and Anne while growing up.
He lived with Debbie and her husband Bill in Rushville for three years after Anne passed away. They had many visits with the children.
Granddaughter Heather’s husband Tim Meckes spent hours with him almost every day after work talking and listening to recollections of his life.
He had many wonderful care givers including Joanna and Gini who loved him.

Memorial contributions may be made to Our Hospice of South Central Indiana.  2626 17th Street  Columbus, IN 47201

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