Thomas Robert Needham passed quickly and unexpectedly on November 12, 2018.
After 25 years living in his home in Somers, MT, he was loving his new home at St. Joseph Assisted Living in Polson, just down the street from his fiancée Barbara Legoo. He was actively involved in the community, singing in a church choir, and busy with his photography and other projects close to his heart.
Tom was born August 10, 1933, in Missoula, MT, to Thomas Alton Needham and Helen Clara (Haegg). The youngest of four children, he lived in Ronan, MT until entering the University of Montana at Missoula where he served as class president, sang with the Jubileers, and graduated with a degree in Journalism.
Tom and Arlene Ruth (Steele) were married in 1954. They met at the Christian Science church where Arlene was the Sunday School pianist and Tom was the church soloist. Together, they raised five daughters – Kimberlie, Jamie, Laurel, Linda, and their precious Kathy Jo (who passed at age 3). His work promotions created opportunities for the family to live in Montana, New Mexico, Texas, Upstate New York, and Southern California.
In 1983, he married Clara Louise (Barnes) aboard the Reuben E. Lee Steamboat in San Diego, CA. They eventually moved to Somers, MT, happy and proud to be back in his home state. After Clara’s death, he reconnected with his childhood sweetheart, Barbara Legoo. Together, they enjoyed a precious relationship through his remaining years.
Tom started his career as a Public Information Officer for the Anaconda Company, followed by a 25 year career with Xerox Corporation in Communications and in Marketing and Sales. His skill with people eventually landed him a position in Corporate Management. After retiring from Xerox and moving to Montana, he worked as Marketing Manager for Blake Office Supplies in Kalispell before officially retiring in 1994. He also worked for Buffalo Hills Mortuary in Kalispell.
Tom was the ultimate people person. He made friends easily, told many a story, and was always willing to help those in need. A big dreamer, he had a way of accomplishing whatever he put his mind to. Most recently, he was excited about new opportunities to get his beloved Ice Angel photo greeting cards into wider circulation.
One of the most pivotal events in Tom’s life was the loss of his older brother, Robert, over the English Channel in 1944, soon after D-Day. Tom was just 11 years old. Robert’s disappearance was classified as MIA, and Tom recently devoted lots of time and energy to making sure his dear brother finally received full military honors on Memorial Day 2016.
Tom is preceded in death by his parents, brother Robert, sister Jewel, and daughter Kathy Jo. He is survived by his fiancée, Barbara Legoo; daughters Kimberlie (Jim) Chenoweth of New Castle, CO, Jamie Needham of Nevada City, CA, Linda (Kevin) Turner of Corona, CA, and Laurel Hansen-Havlik and Bruce Johnson of Missoula; grandsons Matthew, Robert, Jordan, and TJ; and granddaughter Kaycee. He is also survived by his sister Rachel Nowlin of Roland, AR and nieces Marilyn and Patty, and his brother-in-law, George Stonehocker and nephews Terry, Cliff, Warren, and Ted.
We, his daughters, could not be prouder of our dad. He is immensely loved.
Please join us for a celebration of Tom’s life 3:30 this Saturday, November 17, 2018 at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Polson, with reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Tom’s name to any Boys and Girls Club or Veterans organization.