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Thomas J. Contos

November 30, 1938 — November 13, 2020

It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Thomas J. Contos of Toledo, on Friday, November 13, 2020, at Hospice of Northwest Ohio. He was born on November 30, 1938 to Andrew and Margaret Liszak Csontos Contos in east Toledo. The family moved to Point Place in 1951, where Tom attended St. John the Baptist School, and also met his future wife, Barbara. Much of the time during his teenage years was spent with friends, water-skiing and exploring the islands. While working at his father’s gas station, Tom learned all about cars, something that family and friends benefited from for the rest of his life. Even though cars have changed, he could still diagnose a problem with a good deal of accuracy. He graduated from Waite High School in January 1957 and attended the University of Toledo. Before long, he decided to join the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve. Tom and Barb were married in 1960, moving to Temperance, Michigan, for a few years. He worked at Toledo Edison as a welder for nearly 30 years, retiring in 1993. During those years, he loved bowling and golf, as well as sailing and fishing outings on Lake Erie with his Edison buddies.

A great teacher and helper to everyone, Tom’s wonderful sense of humor and loving nature will certainly be missed by all. He was always able to come up with a one-liner to manage a chuckle from those he was with. Tom’s children fondly remember spending hours in the pool with him, playing catch, riding bikes and traveling. Spring vacations to Myrtle Beach, with a large group of family members, were legendary. Since Barb was a teacher, there was extra time to plan extended vacations to many locales in the US during the summer months. They would often stop along the way to gather at a pre-planned destination with relatives in state parks in route. He loved to drive and was always ready to “hit the road.” These trips have provided a lot of memories that will be with us forever, giving us many laughs to share. As the children moved on, Tom and Barb were fortunate to be able to enjoy an early retirement and it allowed them to travel to many destinations, eventually visiting 49 of the 50 states. Alaska remained elusive since he always hoped to drive there. National parks would usually be the focus when plans were being made, but driving everywhere, other than Hawaii, gave them the chance to go off the beaten path. One of their most memorable trips was driving the Lewis and Clark Trail from Missouri to Oregon with lots of side trips along the way. They loved to meander.

Besides traveling, Tom used his retirement years to teach himself the fine art of becoming a skilled woodworker, crafting special order furniture for family and for retail. He was also a loyal fan of the Detroit Tigers and University of Toledo sports. He often attended UT football and basketball games with whomever was available to accompany him. If he wasn’t in attendance at a game, he had the radio tuned in to Ernie Harwell, Jerry Keil, Frank Gilhooley or whichever broadcaster was there to keep him informed. Win or lose, it never mattered; he would definitely be tuned in for the next game.

Always ready to drop whatever he was doing, the grandkids could call him for a lift to a practice or attendance at a game or special event, to take them shopping for their first car, to pick them up if stranded or to go on a bike ride on the UT Trail or out to Maumee Bay. They will fondly remember how he was truly interested in their lives and offered a listening ear to anyone who needed it. Tom loved sharing family traditions, especially those centered on the holidays and family vacations. He was the best Christmas gift wrapper, cookie taste-tester, and Buckeye candy maker. He shared an endless supply of peppermints, pop, and inside jokes with his grandkids. They recall him saying: “Gas Man!” as he entered the front door and “3, 2, 1 blastoff!” as he pushed swings in the park. “Timber!”, “tickle knees,” and “don’t walk on the ceiling” as he raised the young ones and lifted them upside down. “Time to hit the bricks” in the morning,“”mmm…wet head” as he hugged after a bath, and “time to hit the hay” at night. And as always: “What can I do to help?”

Over the years, Tom also enjoyed grilling, cooking and perfecting many family recipes such as chili, pork chops, barbeque sauce, lentil soup, root beer floats, and his famous oatmeal. His discerning palate could easily replicate recipes. He was even more than willing to drive 1000 miles to their son and daughter-in-law’s just for a turkey dinner! He was happiest when surrounded by extended family and wonderful friends.

Tom always wished for a cherry-red Corvette for his birthday and more whipped cream on his dessert. And now he’d just want everyone to be okay.

Tom was preceded in death by his parents, brother Andrew Jr., and sister Evelyn Hollo.
He is survived by his wife and best friend of 60 years, Barbara (Urbanski) Contos; children, Caryn Carter Shaner, Becky Oles, Christopher (Carol), and Amy; grandchildren, Elizabeth Oles (Daniel Riggs), Alex Carter, Erik Oles, Lauren Carter, Robin Contos, Sarah Contos, Nicholas Shaner, Emily Contos, and Jacob Contos; one great-grandbaby, Jackson; along with many loving nieces and nephews.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Thomas J. Contos, please visit our flower store.


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