This is a love story. It begins like all stories…once upon a time. Tom was welcomed and loved by his parents Herb and Eleanor when he made them a family of three in Jersey City New Jersey on February 19, 1950. Tom loved it when his sisters Nancy and Ellen came along. Nancy was his best friend when they moved to Waco, TX in 1950. Tom love to take Nancy to the donut palace where they shared donuts and life. Ellen was his baby sister that he could manipulate into doing all his choses and cooking breakfast for him during the summer. But she loved this as Tom made her feel special. When his grandfather pop was ill, Tom would visit him and sneak in a six pack of his favorite beer that he wasn't allowed to have. They would share their love of boats and the six pack. And oh how Tom loved his boats. He even joined the Merchant Marines for a summer before heading off to St. Edwards University in Austin, collecting friends along the way. His unique sense of humor and that he never took himself too seriously made people want to be around him.
Tom loved numbers, solving problems and working hard, which led him to The University of Texas School of Business where he graduated with honors with an MBA. This is where the love story took a turn. Tom fell in love with Patti and they were never apart. Except for that one time. They had been dating for five years when Patti asked Tom to marry her. He said no. But Tom's family had already fallen in love with Patti. So Tom's dad came to Patti and they plotted together on how they could get Tom to say yes to the proposal. Can you see that this is part of the amazing love story? Herb's plan worked and Tom and Patti were married October 1, 1977 at St. Louis Catholic Church in Waco TX.
Tom and Patti started their life together in Austin TX where Tom worked with Spenco System, Dresser Industries, and then in Houston TX with Halliburton and GE Oil and Gas. For almost forty years Tom was a loyal employee who gave a great deal to this industry. He was well respected by his colleagues and gave his employees attention and time when they needed it.
Just when Tom thought the love story couldn't get any better, along came his first child, Jacob Thomas Stoetzner on June 12, 1979. Tom was the fun parent, sneaking Jake donuts before school while Patti always insisted on organic healthy food. Jake loved this little secret they shared. Tom and Jake really loved sneaking off to ride Tom's motor cycle with Jake sitting securely between Tom's legs. Of course Patti never knew. And Tom was the one who allowed Jake to keep the puppy he stole from the neighbors but only after he confessed.
Tom love watching Jake play sports. And he was so proud of Jake's accomplishments completing his degree in mechanical engineering while playing division one football at Tulsa University, completing a degree in law and a successful career with EBN (Executive Benefits Network). But Tom was most excited of Jake's accomplishment of winning over the heart of Kelli Henderson. Tom, as was his nature, opened his heart to Kelli, welcoming her and her family into his heart.
And then the love story took another amazing turn when his daughter Ashley Katel came screaming into his life on February 12, 1984. Ashley captured Tom's heart from the very moment she was born. They not only shared his straight hair but his sense of humor. They delighted in balancing the checkbook together and clipping coupons. Tom thrilled Ashley by bringing his calculator home from work so she could add things and pretend she was him. Tom graciously endured many dance recitals, drill team competitions, always keeping his eyes only on his princess. Tom was always in awe of Ashley's accomplishments. She stuck it out at The University of Texas even though she faced one tragedy after another. He commented that she was the smart strong one of the family, so much like him. They had a connection and bond that only they shared.
But Tom's love story contained volumes more. It included his brother in laws Alan Sprain, Doyle Kupper and Mike McPherson. He referred to them as his brothers. They shared cigars, good whiskey, fishing, and the closeness that only comes from the love between brothers.
Turn the page and there are his sister-in-laws, Karran, Anne, Cindy, Janet. Tom loved talking with them about work, fishing, life, sports. He loved just being with them.
Then along came Cooper and Parker, Tom's grandsons. Talk about a love story! Cooper loved his pops and only wanted to be around him. The highlight of 2013 was being there when Parker was born. Tom knew his grand babies were in good hands with Kelli as their mother. He thought she was the best and marveled at her love and patience.
Tom's favorite hobbies were working out at the gym, where he mentored many young guys who wanted advice on how to be a 'strong man'. Tom was an example of how to be strong physically, spiritually, and how it was a package deal. He was a good friend of Howard, a friend he mentored through United Action for the Elderly.
Tom made it possible for Patti to work with the ministry of Young Life. He was just as much a part of this as she was. His encouragement and passion for reaching kids with the message that Jesus loves them with all his heart was woven into Tom and Patti's life.
But as of late Tom got caught up in a storm that he just couldn't get out of. He never lost his integrity, sweet disposition or love for his family and friends. He just couldn't escape the storm. He was just below the surface.
Remember his sense of humor, his love of family and friends, his love of fishing and the Sprain family ranch and hold tight to memories each of you have of the man who left a legacy of simple love acceptance of everyone and humility.
This love story does not have a 'The End'. Tom's legacy and love story will live on through his wife Patti, his kids Jake and Ashley, and Kelli, Cooper, and Parker, who now carry Tom's love, paying it forward.
In lieu of flowers please consider making a donation to Young Life. Tom and Patti were excited about working together to build a Young Life camp in Yeravan Armenia. Tom's legacy…bringing hope to teens in a country where there is very little hope.
Tom and Patti were also passionate about the Young Life Campership Legacy program which provides scholarships to help under resourced youth get to camp. Again, leaving a legacy of love with a ripple effect for eternity.
You can send donations to:
Young Life Greater Houston Region
900 Town and Country Lane, Suite 302
Houston, TX 77024
Or call 713.464.8117 to donate by credit card
Just let them know what you want to donate to.