The life of Thomas Hughes Hart began in Omaha, Nebraska, on June 25, 1931, son of Clarence Hart and Arlene Hughes Hart. He joined two older sisters.
The family moved to a farm south of Gillett Grove when Tom was a child. Tom attended Gillett Grove School through 8th grade. He grew up loving nature and the freedom it gave him to enjoy his horse, Tony and many other pets. His family then moved to Milford, Iowa, where he finished his high school education, graduating in 1949. During high school and college, he held several jobs, one he enjoyed the most working with Dr. Jones, veterinarian in Milford. He went on to attend Iowa State, but interrupted his college years as he joined the Army during the Korean War and was stationed in Germany. He then returned to Iowa State, graduating in December of 1956. He began his working career at Hormel in Austin, MN.
Tom married Judy Stoermer on June 25, 1957. After the birth of daughter, Cynthia Ann and son, Richard Thomas and several moves, the decision was made to make a life without so many moves. Tom and Judy purchased Spencer Sewing Machine Co. in 1965 where Tom’s mechanical skills continued for 39 years. In early business years, Tom was president of ISMDA (Independent Sewing Machine Dealers of America) which was an organization to rid the business of door to door type selling, with no follow up service.
Tom’s life was busy. He also had a small hail insurance business, lived on a small farm with lots of upkeep, was active in Rotary, was instrumental in forming the Spencer Main Street Program, was active in Grace United Methodist Church and, of course, loved the Sister’s Café coffee group.
He was awarded the ISU alumni service award, as well as the Izaak Walton League Windbreak award for planting over 300 trees. Tom’s farm provided an excellent learning experience for his children as well as endurance and work ethic.
In 1987, Tom and Judy moved to Okoboji, enjoying the lake, other than in 1993 when during flooding they lived “in” the lake. The opportunity to fish, enjoy boat rides, watch sunsets and walk with nature was priceless. Tom continued to be active in Wahpeton City government and enjoy many good friends as well as Mother Nature’s creatures!
Retirement came in 2005. A move to senior living in 2017 made life even easier for Tom until failing health made life a challenge and enjoyment much less. After spending only a day in the care center, he was transferred to the hospital.
Tom passed in the Spirit Lake Hospital on April 12, Easter Sunday. He is missed but suffers no more.
Left to cherish his memories are his wife, Judy; sister, Georgia Raun of Lincoln, Nebraska; daughter, Cindy Martens (Donn Martens) of Spirit Lake, Iowa; son, Rich of St. Paul, Minnesota; grandson, Cole Martens; granddaughter, Alicia Zevenbergen (Justin Zevenbergen); great-grandchildren, Kiptyn and Zoey Zevenbergen, all of Spirit Lake, Iowa; numerous other relatives and friends.