After quietly, stoically and heroically battling cancer for three years, Thomas Thaddeus Mertes passed away peacefully with his loved ones at his side on December 19, 2019 at Season’s Hospice in Naperville, Illinois. Tom silently slipped away from us while he listened to Psalm 23 and we take great comfort knowing that he “… will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”
Tom entered this world on November 16, 1955 in the city of Chicago – the fourth child of Dolores (Vollriede) Mertes.
In 1979, Tom met the lovely Margaret Heron while both worked at Banker’s Life and Casualty. During a memorable Christmas party, they entertained the crowd by singing together. Marge, stepping way out of her comfort zone, decided to impress her new beau by belting out “Oh Holy Night”. It worked and she won her man’s heart forever. In 1982 they married at St Pascal Church. Early in their marriage they performed together in plays at Theater on the Lake in Chicago, with Tom encouraging and praising Marge every step of the way. Marge is forever grateful for her 37 years of marriage to her first and only love. At the end, Tom’s only worry in leaving this earth was leaving his true love, Marge.
In 1993 Tom lost his brother, closest confidant and constant companion, Kevin Francis Mertes. Tom was also predeceased by his mother and step-father,
Dolores and David Thelaner and his in-laws, Dorothy and Ernest (Red) Heron, who loved Tom like a son.
Tom was a shining light and loving presence in the lives of his five siblings. As he would proudly say, there was “not an ax murder among us”, which given the challenges of our upbringing, was something to brag about. He is survived by Deirdre (Dennis) Gallagher, Lawrence (Carol) Mertes, Bridget (Jim) Peretick and Kerry (Rick) Biordi. He also leaves sisters-in-law-in-law Francine (Don) Kennedy and Patricia (William) Nunez.
As an uncle, Tom shared his extroverted, entertaining and encouraging self with Wesley and Abigail Mertes, Katherine, Laura and Matthew Peretick, Sophia and Olivia Biordi, and Donny Kennedy.
After graduating with honors from the school of hard- knocks, he did time at O’Hare Airport working for the City of Chicago. The one blessing from this employment was the opportunity to meet his best friend and partner in crime, Patrick Ackerman in 1982. It could only have been arranged by God with His perfect timing and sense of humor, that Pat happened to be working at a popcorn stand at the airport, exactly where Tom was assigned to push a broom. The rest, as the say, is history. Tom became a very dear friend of Pat and his wife Kris and was the proud godfather and beloved, honorary uncle to their sons, Patrick and Daniel.
Thankfully at age 50, by God’s grace, Tom contemplated a career change and was led to the New School of Massage in Chicago where he discovered and developed his gift of healing as a massage therapist. It is not at all an exaggeration to say that this was truly a new beginning for Tom.
Working as a licensed massage therapist for both The New School of Massage and the YMCA in 2007, he changed not only his life, but the lives of those blessed through his healing hands. In 2011 he formally became a teacher at the school, where he was able to share his knowledge and his passion for massage while making an impact, both professionally and personally, in the lives of fellow staff and students.
Tom was very generous with his time and talents, rarely turning down a request to help others. He was the person all his family and friends knew they could depend on, whether for encouraging advice, a massage to soothe an ache or pain, or for a long, meaningful spiritual conversation.
Given Tom’s resonating, deep voice, along with his penchant for accents and the extraordinary ability to make unusual noises, he was a natural entertainer. He loved being on stage, writing, directing and performing in plays. He was also a gifted writer of poetry, short stories and songs.
The man loved to cook and he loved to eat! Buffet restaurants both admired and feared him. Food was something that Tom was passionate about. He was an adventurous chef and he delighted in perfecting his recipes and sharing the delicious results with many a lucky pot-luck participant.
Tom was a self-taught musician, playing guitar, mandolin, bagpipes, saxophone, banjo, didgeridoo and seemingly any other instrument he picked up. He loved the boogie-woogie songs of his in-laws, Red and Dot. He especially loved the artists Odetta and Tom Waits. He was inordinately fond of the Mongolian Huun-Huur- Tu, Tuvan throat singers, to the delight and puzzlement of many.
As a faithful, devoted disciple of Jesus Christ, Tom fearlessly shared his love of Jesus through his words, actions and clothing choices. If you have a “Team Jesus” shirt in your closet, wear it proudly in Tom’s honor…and feel free to strike up conversations with others at the Dollar Tree or doctor’s office.
As an Elder at Mount Olive Church he encouraged and inspired others, often leading worship music and Bible studies. Tom loved reading and pondering the Bible. He truly loved sharing God’s Word with others.
Tom was forgiving, faithful and tremendously fun to spend time with. Up to the very end he put the needs of others first and he always looked out for those he loved.
Although Tom’s presence in this world will be greatly missed by so many, we can take great solace and comfort knowing that he is now with Jesus and will be forever in His grip.
On Saturday, February 8, 2020 at 12:45PM, Tom’s ashes will be interred at:
Court of St. Michael Resurrection Mausoleum at St. Joseph Cemetery
Belmont and Cumberland Avenues
River Grove, IL 60171
Afterwards at 2:30pm a celebration of Tom’s life will take place at:
Mt. Olive Church 3850 N. Tripp Chicago, IL 60641
Instead of flowers, please consider a donation to a scholarship established in Tom’s honor which will be awarded annually to a deserving student making a midlife career change to study massage therapy.
The Thomas Mertes Scholarship Fund
c/oThe New School of Massage
747 N. LaSalle #300
Chicago IL 60654 https://www.newschoolmassage.com