Thomas John Kolodziej
July 6, 1953 — Sept. 15, 2021
NASHUA, IA — Thomas John Kolodziej age 68 of Nashua, IA died Wednesday, September 15, 2021, from injuries sustained in a car accident.
A Memorial visitation will take place on Saturday, October 16, 2021 at St. John the Evangelist Church, 10701 Olcott, St. John, IN. from 9:00 a.m. until the Time of Memorial Mass at 10:30 a.m. Inurnment Chapel Lawn Memorial Gardens Cemetery.
Tom was born on July 6, 1953, to Stanley and Dorothy (Juszczak) Kolodziej in Hammond, Indiana. He was the second oldest of five brothers, and his younger siblings remember him as a great big brother who liked to buy them ice cream cones and just give them the most precious gift, his time, of all.
He graduated from Hammond Morton High School in 1971 and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, and he made the Air Force his career -- working on electronics for the Strategic Air Command. He served his country around the globe, including places like Alaska's Aleutian Islands near the Soviet Union, Berlin, and Edinburgh, Scotland.
In the mid-1980s, Tom was stationed at Fort Meade, Maryland, where he met an employee for the defense contractor GTE Aerospace named Sandy Hvitved. Although Sandy was based in San Jose, California, the two hit it off and made their cross-country relationship work before they were married on March 27, 1987, in Carson City, Nevada.
Tom retired from the Air Force in 1992 and moved to San Jose, where the couple lived until Sandy retired in 1996. They moved to Sandy's hometown of Nashua, where Tom began a computer business called Stansson. Tom did everything from setting up computer networks to helping those unfamiliar with the machines set up the basics like email and he liked to fix computers.
Tom was proud to be a veteran, and he was a member of the Nashua VFW and American Legion posts, serving as a commander for both organizations over the years. He also was instrumental in making sure that students attending Nashua-Plainfield schools came to know veterans and was a mainstay in the school's Veterans Day program and also led numerous Memorial Day observances in his adopted hometown.
He did not have any children of his own, but he was, to put it simply, a great uncle to his brothers' children. He never missed a birthday, always calling them on their big day, and enjoyed thoroughly the time he was able to spend with them.
Tom lost the love of his life on Feb. 14, 2013, and he missed Sandy dearly, but he persevered and found new hobbies -- including taking up ham radios and earning his amateur radio license-- in recent years. His rural home was also a sort of Noah's Ark, where animals seemed to appear out of nowhere. He kept Sandy's horse, Charlie, had a pair of goats and, over the years, a barn full of cats, raccoons, and other animals that knew Tom would always have food for them.
Tom will be remembered for many things -- his love for his family and his country, his commitment to his fellow veterans, and his dedication to students -- and those that knew and loved him will greatly miss him, but they also know he lived a life of service and is now reunited with the love of his life, Sandy.
He is survived by three brothers: Gary (Becky) Kolodziej of Friendswood, Texas, Jeff (Cindy) Kolodziej of Vail, Arizona; Ken (Shari) Kolodziej of St. John, Indiana; sister-in-law Flo Kolodziej of Highland, Indiana; many nieces and nephews; the many men and women he served with; and veterans he so tirelessly supported.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Sandy; and one brother, Leon Kolodziej. Arrangements entrusted to ELMWOOD CHAPEL - St. John, IN. 219-365-3474. www.elmwoodchapel.com