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Obituaries » Thomas Foster DeGroot

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February 25, 1948 - October 21, 2020

A private celebration of Tom’s life will be held. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be made to the Kalamazoo YWCA Domestic Assault Program, c/o the funeral home. Joldersma & Klein Funeral Home 917 S. Burdick St. Kalamazoo, MI 49001

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Age 72, passed away at home on Wednesday, October 21, his family by his side. Tom was born in Kalamazoo on February 25, 1948, son of the late Ethel (his beloved Schnotzie) and Earl DeGroot. He was a part of Portage Northern’s first graduation class in 1966, and although he attended the University of Kentucky, it was Michigan’s maize and blue he revered.

Tom met the love of his life, Lana Ashley, nearly 30 years ago. They shared a zeal for beaches and sunsets, antiques, and art. In starched shirts and pressed khakis, Tom was a savvy businessman, steering DeGroot Office Machines (later DeGroot Office Technology) and becoming dealer of the year both nationally and worldwide during his career.

After selling the family business in 1995, Tom purchased the historic Beacon Club. With a firm handshake and a warm smile, he greeted guests, and organized wonderful events that will long be remembered.

Fiercely patriotic, Tom loved his country. Having majored in history in college, he devoured books and newspapers, and enjoyed sharing the facts and trivia he learned along the way. He surrounded himself with history, too, both via his large antique collection and his passion for classic movies.

Tom was a great supporter of local businesses and purchased two dogs for the Kalamazoo Police Department’s Canine Unit. His love of dogs extended into his personal life as well; eight of them were lucky enough to have Tom as their master. He was also an avid horse racing fan, having visited tracks around the world. Those who knew him best could always count on him for a grand Derby Day celebration.

From masquerades at Halloween to Easter egg hunts, the holidays brought the kid out in Tom. He was never happier then when he was surrounded by his family and much-adored grandchildren, whether at home in Kalamazoo, at his condo in South Haven, on vacations in Florida, or anywhere else he was with loved ones.

Tom was a generous and loving man. He had a passion for life, which he lived to the fullest. He will be remembered as the kind of person we all aspire to be.

In addition to Lana, he is survived by stepdaughters Donielle Hudson and Kelly Chard, sons-in-law Sandy Hudson and Eric Chard; grandchildren Olivia, Ashley, Hunter, Connor, Landon, and Christian; cousins Judy Martens, Chip Foster, Carol Emery and John Rutz, nieces and nephews, and many, many friends.