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Thomas Gary Van de Grift

September 11th, 1942 - November 10th, 2020

Obituary Thomas G. (Tom) Van de Grift, age 78, peacefully passed away on November 10, 2020. Tom was born on September 11, 1942 in Manitowoc, Wisconsin to the late �Jack� and Bernice Van de Grift. He was a graduate of Lincoln High School in 1960. Tom attended the University of Wisconsin - Madison and graduated from law school in 1967. Tom enlisted in the the Wisconsin Army National Guard in 1967 and completed Officer Candidate school in 1970. He went on to serve the Judge Advocate General�s Corps and the Wisconsin 84th Division. He received the Meritorious Service Medal for his exceptional service and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1994. In addition to his military service, Tom was a dedicated attorney for the State of Wisconsin Department of Health and Social Services and the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. He served as Chief Negotiator for the Wisconsin State Attorney�s Association and retired in 2000, receiving a Commendation from the Governor of the State of Wisconsin for his service. Tom moved to Naples, Florida in 2002. He was a passionate tennis player, engaged community leader and generous neighbor. Tom was always active � from walking State Street and the Capital Square in Madison, to hiking in the mountains, hunting with his beloved Labradors, Boomer and Tango, biking or walking through his neighborhood. Most of all, he loved spending time with his family and friends. He will always be remembered for his sense of humor, his love of the Green Bay Packers and Wisconsin Badgers, his generosity, and �outstanding� attitude. Tom is survived by his three children: Jon Van de Grift (Allison) Port Jefferson, NY; Kevin (Sandra) Van de Grift, Milwaukee, WI; and Kara Van de Grift (Michael), Boulder, CO; his two granddaughters, Emy & Emerson; his brother, Steven (Patricia) Van de Grift, Manitowoc, and sister Kaaren Van de Grift, St. Nazianz, WI, his cousins Rory (Jackie) Bahr, Madison, WI and Joel (Leigh) Bahr, Middleton, WI and many nieces, nephews, relatives and friends. Tom was preceded in death by his parents. Tom�s family would like to thank the nurses and staff of LifeCare Center of Longmont for the care and compassion they provided. The family will greet relatives and friends for a celebration of Tom�s life at a later date when it is safer to gather. In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to be made in Tom�s memory to the Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary: https://act.audubon.org/onlineactions/DGbT6uNuVkiWcVzIk8zDcA2?ms=giving_page_51 Services You can still show your support by sending flowers directly to the family, or by planting a memorial tree in the memory of Thomas Gary Van de Grift

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Greg Smith

How did I know Tom? Let me count the ways. I was a new attorney hearing examiner in 1975 and Tom took me under his wing and showed me the ropes so I wouldn't make a fool of myself. He told me, in his usual expansive way, that our office a palace notwithstanding the fact that we had no air conditioning (papers stuck to your arm) and the windows were so old that snow drifted in during the winter. He was right. He also regaled me with tales of state cars without radios of any kind and - you guessed it - no air conditioning. He loved to josh and tease good naturedly. He was also very generous. When I broke up with a serious girl friend he made sure I came over to his place and watched sports and played board games. If you needed help of any kind, he offered it without being asked. He told me how to sign up for the Army National Guard as a Judge Advocate for some extra money and when he moved to Florida he surprised me by giving me his beautiful 12 gauge pump shotgun. If you wanted to travel to Florida, his house was yours. Tom also really liked fast cars as evidenced by his ownership of a 1963 Corvette that he sometimes drove at the Elk Hart Lake race track. He also took my three kids on a ride in his IROC; to this day they remember the excitement of that ride as they were pressed back into their seats. One of the most unselfish things he did over many years was to serve on the WSAA bargaining team along with another giant, Sherwood "Woody" Zink. Tom played the "bad cop" during negotiations during the negotiations and dealt with the arrogant guys on the state negotiating team and the famously unruly state attorney on the other hand. In the early negotiations Tom served a subpoena on the Governor's wife at her home. Tom played a huge role in greatly increasing state attorney salaries and pensions, something that hugely benefited a large number of state attorneys and their spouses. He often spoke of how much he loved his two boys and his daughter. He was a wonderful and dedicated father who was always there for his kids when they needed him. He was also a proud grandpa. Finally, he was a wonderful friend who could also enjoy a good laugh at his expense. He is irreplaceable and will be sorely missed.

Published March 9th, 2024
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Ray and Joan Zobott

My wife Joan and I had the occasion to meet Tom in 2002 shortly after we both became new owners in Naples, Florida. We both moved into the beautiful community of Timarron in Pelican Marsh. You could always see Tom walking or riding his bike to play tennis. He never missed the opportunity to offer you a smile and take the time to talk you regardless how sweaty he was from playing tennis. In 2004 we convinced Tom to serve on our Board of Directors. His smile and quite voice always had a way of calming any adversarial debate. In 2013 - 2016 Tom served as our President. HIs life's experience and professionalism was always there to everyone to observe. His presence, kindness, and gentle way in communicating made all of us better just by knowing him. Has a giant among men. Tom will always be in our thoughts and memories as we open our doors in Timarron and walk the neighborhood.

Published March 9th, 2024
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Sue Kennedy and Family

A Memorial tree was ordered in memory of Thomas Gary Van de Grift by Sue Kennedy and Family. Plant a Tree

Published March 9th, 2024
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Shelley Malofsky

Jon, Kevin and Kara - I go back many years with Tom, to when you were little ones. My husband, Rick Ward, and I owned liquor stores with your dad and I worked with him at DHS for many years. Your dad was my mentor when I started work but we became good friends and eventually I bossed him around as much as he did me! Up until the last time I saw him in Florida a few years ago he teased me about my stated certainty that I would never have children and I now have three adult daughters. It is not the only teasing that happened between us. You were right in the obituary about his sense of humor. The liquor stores gave us many shared times, laughter and stress. My husband died almost six years ago. I envision he and your dad are lugging beer kegs around the universe, wondering why the hell they decided to do that! My sympathies. Shelley Malofsky

Published March 9th, 2024
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Sherwood

I first met Tom (aka Vandy) in early 1973, when we were Administrative Law Judges in the Wisconsin Department Of Health and Social Services, and we shared an office. We quickly became fast friends and remained so ever since, although I shortly took another position. Our families became friends and Tom and I spent many Fall days hunting together with our dogs. Before long he became the Wisconsin State Attorneys Association's chief negotiator where he was very successful negotiating attorney pay plans. Since I was its president, for many years we spent noon hours walking down Madison's State street discussing Association matters. So it was natural that years later, in 2000, we retired together. My wife, Mary and I then bought a Winter home in Southwest Florida and Tom visited. Liking the area, he then bought a home not far from us in Naples, and we continued our friendship for many more years. He was a great friend and colleague. I will sorely miss him.Sherwood (aka Woody).

Published March 9th, 2024
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Gordon M. Brown

Tom and I were great friends and next door neighbors. We both served as president of our HMA. We shared many repasts and went shooting. I'll miss Tom and extend my deep condolences to his family.Gordon M. Brown

Published March 9th, 2024
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