Today my family went to the funeral and memorial service for a close family friend, Tom Landis, who passed away suddenly on December 15th of complications from the flu.
I’ve known Tom for more than 15 years, ever since my family began attending a New Years Eve party with his family and the Sult’s. Tom has three children, Lauren (20), Will (13) and Gia (11) who we have grown up with.
Normally we only see each other once a year on New Years, but this past June, Bianca Sult graduated from high school and he came up for her graduation party. So we got to see and visit with him in June. Click HERE to read about that day.
(Tom & Bianca ~ June 09 –>)
This year, just like every other one for the past 15 years, the Landis kids came over along with their mom Anna to celebrate the life of Tom and continue the tradition that was very much his doing. I unfortunately ended up having to work on New Years Eve, so missed out on the celebration, but from what I heard it was a great visit!
His service today was very well attended, it was held at Will & Gia’s middle school auditorium and it was filled. I would guess more than 100 people from all walks of life were there. It was amazing to see all the different people there. Community was important to Tom and it was apparent that HIS community was there to support his family and celebrate the life of him.
Bruce was one of the people to give a eulogy of Tom’s life. Bruce’s talk was amazing, he did a really great job! I was doing really well [not crying] until Bruce got to the end of his speech when he read a poem. Bruce lost it, I lost it, everyone around me lost it. It was a beautiful poem, that hit very close to home
Several years ago, Tom wrote his own obituary, so it was really cool to read how he viewed his life and what he wanted people to know and remember about him!
Tom Landis March 7, 1948-Dec 15, 2009
Tom was, among other things, a father, a mentor, a builder, a poet, a journalist, and a educator. In typical Twiddle fashion he was more prepared for this day than any of us. To this end, of course, he had his obituary written and ready to go.
These are his words written for this day.
OBITUARY: MY LIVING FUNERAL
Tom Landis is born to Lois and Herb on 7 March 1948 in Des Moines, Iowa. As a boy Tom enjoys the company of his friends and family among and in between the lakes and rivers of Iowa and Illinois in the Heartland of the American Midwest. He fondly remembers Candy and Sissy, Jimmy and Billy, Kutnick and Shustitski, the two Karens, and Benoshe and Pamela. He reads from the King James Version. He plays Hockey. He Water Skis. He plays the Trombone. He sings in the Choir.
With his siblings Joey, Susie, and Kenny, his boyhood focuses on fishing, boating, frogging, skating, and tobogganing all the way through the first eighteen years of close-knit family life. When he next moves to the Great Pacific Northwest, he steadfastly holds to his identity as a Flatlander, enjoying this namesake the remainder of his life. Lois imparts to him an appreciation for the Sacred. Herb imparts to him an appreciation for the Secular. His immediate family remains intact and thrives in the Puget Sound region. He learns to Sail and Scuba Dive.
As a young man, Tom begins to capture his thoughts on scraps of paper, which he sequesters away. He refuses to consider himself a poet because he writes spontaneously in staccato fashion. What he lacks in expression he gains in verve. A hunter/gatherer. He manages to retain these written fragments of ideas over the decades finally placing them into spiral-bound, self-published pages. He later shares them with friends and family as Juice of the Bloodworm and A Distracted Mind. This pleases him.
Entering into adulthood, Tom finds comfort among a coterie of university intellectuals, and his mentors consist of priests, ministers, and political activist providing him with a profound sense of community spirit. It is now when he truly opens the Doors of Perception dancing with the Infinate and the Divine. At Drake University, he celebrates in the friendship of Pheel, Baggy, Vav, Harold, Nick, and Ray. They remain true the remainder of his life encouraging his Liberty and Happiness. Tom and Marci drink dark Red Wine together.
He takes this community spirit with him into life as he plies his Trade and journeys as a Builder, constructing and remodeling homes as well as working as a Seabee, which to Tom seems to be the fundamental element for creating and protecting home and hearth. His dedication is to Build Community one task at a time. This is his Alamo. He knows he'll take the bullet for Moosehead, Chopper, Happy Jack, Captain Scotty, Red, and Buster. He builds, He fights with Can Do vigor.
It is this commitment to Habitat that also launches his career in Journalism and Education, sharing with the general public his insights on how to better manage their own home building and remodeling endeavors. This is made possible through Tom's weekly radio show, regular writing projects, popular web sites, and college seminars. He strives to treat each individual and family as unique, deserving of his best intentions. He finds an ally and confident in Troy, and cultivates a long-term relationship with the Sult and Benson families.
Tom dallies with Performance Art. He gathers thematically related art-works drawn randomly from his own experiences and relationships. Music. Dance. Architecture. Photography. Film. Painting. Sculpture. A variety of media inspirations enter into his portfolio to be incorporated as part of upcoming media presentations. He remains Open allowing his Muse to guide him. Tom is a Bungler yet he manages to produce, direct, and script three stage productions, each with its own theme. Directions. Creation. Work in Progress. Each takes years to culminate as choreographed public events.
His personal renaissance allows the arts and sciences to blossom throughout his practice and principles, emanating from six years of stimulation at Western Washington University where he embraces Bruce, Norm, Charlie, Perry, and Jo. He blesses his three children Lauren, Will, and Gia with this very same . . . appreciation of learning . . . by encouraging them to engage their Knowledge and Imagination. The heart of the later years of Tom's life is to motivate his children to grow and flourish through their own independence of mind and spirit. In their lives he discovers Unconditional Love. They share athletic experiences: Golf, Tennis, Volleyball, and Baseball are intimate experiences. Lauren, Will, and Gia are pure joy.
Over the decades, he appreciated the good company of fine woman. Thelma. Vilette. Theresa. Rafella. Linda. Anna. Mary. Yet, Tom is a widower, not destined to remain married or to find his bliss in conjugal relations or to discover meaning in the repeated rituals of domestic life. His romance as a Father, Educator and Journalist become his True Love. He continues his career with Spiritual Fervor. He finds significance in the works of soulful women, Didion, Susanka and Kempen. He is a Monk in the Adventure of Ideas.
Expanding his circle ever wider, Tom eventually becomes host to weddings, reunions, and family gatherings, all the while continuing to nourish and inspire his children and follow their bliss. He builds. He writes. He creates culture. Friendship, community and family spirit are the most religious things he possesses. Bill and Jennifer, Bob and Jill, Mike and Pam, Jay and Judy are central to this understanding. The time is right for Being There.
Throughout his Life, Tom emphasizes what matters most, which is to love one another. He is keenly aware of the ersatz of symbols and what they signify. His Door is always Open.
He is survived by his daughters Lauren, and Gia and his son Will.
Written by Tom Landis in May 2007 and e-mailed to some friends and family.
After the service there was going to be a wake [celebration/party] to follow. My parents & Kelly stayed for it, but Alex and I had to head home. I can’t wait to hear how it went and what happened! I’ll end this post with a few photos of the Landis family, “stolen” from Gia’s Facebook page. These photos were taken in the Summer of 2008.