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Tom McCormick, a lifelong Chicago-area resident, passed away peacefully at his Burr Ridge home on Sept. 9, four days before what would have been his 92nd birthday, with several of his children and his devoted caregivers at his bedside. As a son, a sibling, a spouse, a colleague, a friend, a father and a grandfather, he touched the lives of everyone he knew with his gregarious, cheerful and caring nature.
The oldest of four children raised by Claudia (Towey) and Joseph McCormick, Tom grew up in Forest Park and Oak Park, attending St. Bernadine’s Elementary School and Fenwick Academy High School. “He was my hero,” says Tom Morsch, who first met Tom as a freshman at Fenwick and remained one of his close friends for the next 75 years. “Tom was the ultimate student athlete; talented on the football field and also an academic standout.”
That combination of talents earned him a scholarship to Northwestern University and a spot on the starting lineup as right guard of NU’s football team. Northwestern is also where Tom met Marcia Alexander, the love of his life. They married a few months after graduation in 1953, and they spent the next 55 years together as life partners, best friends, parents and grandparents, until her death in 2009.
After service as a lieutenant in the US Navy and a few years working for a family glass company, Tom went back to school, earned an engineering degree from Illinois Institute of Technology, and launched his career at IBM.
Dave Grimes, who met Tom in their IBM sales training class and became a good friend for the next 60 years, remembers him as the ultimate salesman. “Yes, he was personable, but he was also calm, level-headed, extremely knowledgeable and focused on meeting the customer’s needs. A total professional.”
Those skills served him well as he rose up the managerial ranks at the technology powerhouse of the era. He was tapped to lead a variety of projects for the firm, including one of IBM’s first diversity initiatives, in which he improved the company’s recruitment and retention of minority salespeople. His happiest years with IBM, however, were as the producer of “industrials”—big-budget extravaganzas that IBM and other large corporations put on as a reward for high-performing staff members and as a thank you to major customers. “Like everything else he did, he was a big success producing those shows,” Dave recalls.
At the same time he was building his career at IBM, he and Marcia were raising a growing family in Hinsdale. Son Michael knew his father as a big personality with a wide eccentric streak. “He was an early adapter of the jogging craze who logged his first miles in sneakers and Bermuda shorts. He woke up before sunrise to read the dictionary cover to cover and stump his family with words nobody would ever use. He was a lifelong learner who took piano lessons and French classes as an adult. He never took himself too seriously, and he showed us how a sense of humor could be loving and therapeutic.”
When he wasn’t raising children or building his career, Tom was an active and engaged member of his civic community. He served for more than 50 years as an usher at his longtime parish, St. John of the Cross in Western Springs. He also served multiple terms on St. John’s school board. As a member of Fenwick’s board of trustees, he helped that institution make the transition from an all-male to a co-educational student body.
Tom was a generous donor and active fundraiser for many organizations, from his high school and college alma maters to local organizations supporting children with disabilities and individuals living with cancer.
“He was full of enthusiasm and always brimming with ideas,” remembers Theresa Forthofer, president and CEO of Easterseals of DuPage and Fox Valley, where Tom served on the board for many years. The organization honored him with its Crystal Heart Award in 2003. And Theresa credits Tom with encouraging the chapter to build an endowment fund, which has secured its long term financial security.
In addition to his wife and two siblings, James and Aurelia, Tom is preceded in death by his son Tommy and a cherished granddaughter, Arianne. Tom is survived by his brother, his daughter and four sons, and 10 grandchildren.
A visitation will be held on Sunday September 24, 2023 from 4pm until 8pm at Adolf and Powell Funeral Home, 7000 S Madison St, Willowbrook, IL 60527. Family and friends will meet on Monday September 25, 2023 for an 11am Funeral Mass at St John of The Cross Church, 5005 Wolf Rd, Western Springs, IL 60558.
Sunday September 24, 2023 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM 7000 S. Madison St. Willowbrook, IL 60527 7000 S Madison St. Willowbrook, Illinois 60527
Monday September 25, 2023 11:00 AM St John of the Cross Catholic Church (Western Springs) 5005 S. Wolf Rd Western Springs, IL 60558