Thomas ‘Tom’ McCormick
April 17, 1936 - July 25, 2021
Thomas Peter McCormick, 85, of La Crosse passed away on Sunday, July 25, 2021, at the Vernon Manor in Viroqua. He was born April 17, 1936, in Black River Falls, WI, to Clair and Clara (Peterson) McCormick Sr.
Tom graduated from Black River Falls High School. On August 30, 1958, he married Orletta “Lettie” Saunders in Black River Falls.
Tom retired from driving a truck for Yellow Freight in 1998. He then started his own business in siding and window replacement, as well as constructing five houses. There was never a job too small or too big for him.
Tom enjoyed riding his Harley. His last big solo trip was to Alaska. He had traveled all 50 states as well as Canada and Ireland. He was vey proud of his Irish heritage. Tom also loved woodworking and music; he played and sung with “The Country Gents” in the 1960s. Tom lived a rich life in Country Music; in 1955, he went to audition at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, but because he was the 75th person in line he was told to go to Texas for the audition. He started for Texas but instead returned to Wisconsin. One of Tom’s favorite songs was “Hey hey good lookin’, what you got cookin’, how’s about cookin’ something up for me” by Hank Williams, a song he sang on and off the stage and a song that our mom couldn’t stand. He was working in Janesville, WI, in 1955 when he went down to Beloit, WI, and met Country Music star Faron Young. In 1959 he was invited to record in Nashville, compliments of Faron Young and other Country Music stars. However, Lettie gave him the ultimatum: It was either her or music; he chose Lettie.
There was the time Faron Young was performing a show in La Crosse at the Mary E. Sawyer Auditorium. Tom was performing the same night with his band at the Three Deuces, so Tom invited Faron to come and listen to Tom and his band after Faron’s performance. Tom told Alice, the owner of the Three Deuces, to expect Faron and the band to show up that night. She didn’t believe him, but her surprise, Faron and the band not only showed up, but played all night while Faron and Tom were at the bar partying . Following the unexpected death of “The Country Gents” drummer Laverne, Tom was struck hard, and he ended his music career and picked up his hammer and nails.
Tom is survived by a son, Faron McCormick; three daughters, Faith Apfel, Pamela (Steven) Cullens and Peggy (Steve) Gander; grandchildren, Chanda (Matt) VandeSlunt, Lee (Ashley) Apfel, Candice (Mike) Greeno, Colt Johnson and Travis Miller; great-grandchildren, Theo Jensen Innis Jr.- Greeno, Teagan and Tansy Greeno, Addyson and Kinsley Apfel, Emerly and Faye VandeSlunt; a sister-in-law, Grace Ann McCormick; brothers-in-law, Ronald (Helen) Saunders, Jerry (Lorraine) Saunders, Dennis (Marlene) Saunders, Terry (Sallie) Saunders, DeVere Emerson and Richard Matthew, along with many nieces and nephews.
The family would like to give special thanks to Raina Pickett, Jennifer P. and Jennifer B. (and her friend James) for the contributions they made in the later days of his life.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Lettie on March 10, 2016; his parents; father and mother-in-law, Rollie (Marie) Saunders and Rachel (Edward) Emerson; brother, Clair McCormick Jr.; sister, Virginia “Ginny” Thomas; brothers-in-law, Philip (Pat) Thomas, George Harper, Lyman “Red” Saunders and Duane “Genie” Saunders; sister-in-law, Takaki “Butch” Saunders; nieces, Arlene Kay and Sandra Thomas; nephews, Gordon McCormick, Joel and Dennis Thomas and a great-nephew, Tony Teeples.
Memorial services will be at 11:00 A.M. Monday, Aug. 2, at Olivet Lutheran Church, 2100 Bainbridge Street, La Crosse with Rev. Jeremy Walloch officiating. Visitation will be at the church from 9:30 A.M. Monday until the time of services.
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