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Tom LeClair, 82, of Tawas City

Thomas Harold LeClair, age 82, (husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, brother-in-law, friend, hunter, conservationist, athlete, lover of sports, and card player) passed away on Friday, January 26, 2024 from complications of pneumonia, Afib, and Lewy Body Dementia. He was the second son of Dr. John D. and Florence M. LeClair, born (May 26, 1941) and raised in Tawas City, MI. He was into sports in his early years, and played football and baseball in high school, graduating from Tawas Area High School with the Class of 1959. He attended Alpena Community College, met his future wife there (Joyce Hartnell but known as “Penny”), and received his Associate’s degree. He then attended Northern Michigan University and earned his B.S. degree, and finished with his M.A. degree from Central Michigan University. Tom and Penny were married in 1965, and celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2015 with family and friends.Tom taught physical education at Our Lady of Grace School in Dearborn Heights and Alpena Public Schools until he moved back to Tawas with his family to co-manage their Tawas City family-owned business, Gambles (appliances and hardware). He had been a hockey coach for many years in Marquette and Alpena. Often, past students of his from the Alpena school system would approach him with comments of the enjoyment they had from their days in his gym classes and hockey teams! He taught his two children Tracy and Jeffrey the nuances of their sports, and so enjoyed following their participation in their chosen sports: Tracy’s ringette hockey in Alpena; Little League baseball with the boys (ask Mark Elliott, her coach!),softball, basketball, and volleyball in Tawas; and softball at SVSU; and Jeff’s speed skating in Alpena; basketball and baseball in Tawas. (Popcorn for dinner!) Tom was a member of the Tawas City Business Association, the Tawas Area Chamber of Commerce, Tawas Bay Players, supporter of the Tawas Community Concert Band, and held membership and was a past trustee in the Tawas Area Elks Lodge #2525. Upon retirement he stayed active with his management of properties, woodland conservation, and hunting, and was a member of the Quality Deer Management Association. He loved watching all sports (was an “armchair quarterback” with football being his favorite), and they were part of a group of friends that met for dinner at various restaurants every Friday for the past 40 years!! He enjoyed playing cards and “Jokers and Pegs”. He loved all family gatherings, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas when the whole “gang” would come together for poker, story telling, teasing, camaraderie, and fun!! The kids loved to hear the stories of his escapades and fun times of growing up in Tawas: waterskiing, sailing, and fishing on the Bay, pick-up ball in the neighborhood, B-B gun fights from roofs of garages, throwing tomatoes at canoes on the Tawas River–he and his buddies should have been in the “brig”!! He followed Penny’s musical endeavors, even traveling to Europe with the International Band as equipment manager. They traveled with friends to Alaska, Bahamas, the Caribbean, Hawaii, and to many states. They spent many winters at their home in Bonita Springs, FL, and had a ton of friends there too. Those that knew and loved Tom will always remember what “an instigator” he was, and how he truly enjoyed his family, hunting, football, and “fun with his grandson”. He loved ALL that “Up North Michigan” had to offer, especially living on his camp property, watching the birds and “critters”. Over the years he enjoyed snowmobiling, plowing snow, camping, fishing, canoeing the AuSable and Tawas Rivers, Class Reunions, etc. Most memorably, Tom was “Road Commissioner of East Wilber Woods” and was known for his frequent “road patrols”! Tom is survived by his wife Penny (58 years of marriage), brother John A. LeClair, grandson Cameron Kendall, and his wife’s three living sisters and families: Marilynn (Steve) Ditchkoff; Tamara (Roger) Gady; and Patricia (Mark) Hushebeck; seven nieces and nephews; son-in-law David Kendall, and many special and dear friends. He was predeceased by his parents Dr. John D. and Florence LeClair, his son, Jeffrey Thomas LeClair in 1994, daughter Tracy Lynne Kendall in 2016, and sister-in-law Sandra Hartnell (Reinhard Pope). Tom had a great deal of resilience, courage, and strength to cope with the loss of both children. Tom’s wish was that people remember him with love, laughter, and enjoyment. The family will welcome friends on Friday, February 2nd, from 4 – 7 PM at the Buresh Funeral Home, Tawas, MI.  He has been cremated and will be interred in Immaculate Heart of Mary Cemetery in Tawas City. Those wishing to make a memorial contribution in his name are encouraged to consider the Tawas Community Concert Band “Music Fund” or the Tawas Bay Players.  You may offer your condolences online at www.bureshfuneralhomes.com.


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