Thomas Joseph Luxem, 73, Rapid City, passed away Monday, Nov. 6, 2023, at his home north of Rapid City.
Tom was born June 30, 1950, at Ellsworth Air Force Base where his parents, Francis and Muriel Luxem, were stationed. Tom joined brother Larry, and the expanding family later welcomed David, John and Jane. The Luxems lived in Box Elder and the children all attended Douglas School System.
Tom started out working as a teenager at Holiday Inn, and later worked construction alongside brother Larry at Hills Materials. Tom married Chris Ayres of Rapid City, in 1974, and they bought a new house in Black Hawk, where they were later blessed with the birth of a son, Vince, on Nov. 21, 1976.
Tom taught safety classes to workers on the oil rigs in Wyoming in the ‘80s, and then moved to Casper, Wyo., where he obtained an associate’s degree in Business, graduating January 1992, from Casper College. He met his second wife, Kelli Vanderbeek of Hill City, and they returned to Rapid City where they lived and enjoyed a 14-year marriage.
Tom’s love of plants and gardening resulted in a large home garden every summer and he shared its bounty with family and friends. “Mr. Green Jeans” could be found early mornings or late afternoons tending to his vegetable garden. He and Kelli hosted many large family cookouts in the backyard of their home on Fairmont Boulevard.
Tom was a free-spirited, hard-working man. He put in many years at Dakota Panel, formerly Merillat, where he operated a forklift and worked in finishing.
Tom suffered a major stroke in 2014 which necessitated his early retirement, and left him limited both physically and verbally. He had purchased a home with a nice piece of land north of Rapid City with partner Bev Larsen. Together they raised a few horses, a bunch of chickens, a couple of dogs and a big vegetable garden. He finally succumbed to a heart attack at home while he slept.
Tom is survived by his son Vince (Shelley) Ashley, Shiloh, Ill.; grandchildren Mike Ashley, Gilbert, Ariz., Colt Ashley and Carsyn Ashley, both of Shiloh; brothers David (Cindy) Luxem and John (Deb) Luxem, all of Rapid City; sister Jane (Joe) Girard, Wakonda; special nieces Lisa Luxem and Lana Luxem; numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and other extended family members including former wife Kelli Luxem; and partner Bev Larsen.
He was preceded in death by his parents; brother Larry Luxem; former wife Chris Ashley, and nephew Wayne Luxem.