Tom Lutey

8 entries
  • "My thoughts and prayers go out to Tom's brother Jim, wife..."
    - Annabelle Jacob
  • "leslie and bonnie benz"
  • "Donna & family Al and I were so sorry to here about Toms..."
    - Al & Karen Hulverson
  • "For the Lutey Family. I enjoyed visiting with Tom and..."
    - Richard Vaughn
  • "Dear Tom and Theresa, I am sorry for your loss. Your Dad..."
    - Peg Kayser
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Tom Lutey, 67, suffered a stroke on Holy Saturday and slid into a coma, from which he never awoke. He died April 14.
Our lives will never be the same. If you ever found yourself lugging grocery bags home in a blizzard, Tom was the guy who gave you a ride. He was the Irving School dad who volunteered to lead the Cub Scouts when other parents begged off. A builder by trade, Tom was always doing free work for widow with no family nearby, or a dying man struggling to live independently.
Tom empathized with others because the he'd been there, done that. A lifetime of juvenile diabetes had taken the front half of both Tom's feet. His eyes were impaired. His kidneys were failing. And yet he just kept plugging away at life. Raised on the streets of Butte by Depression era parents, Tom used to say "the fight isn't over until you can't get up." And for him it wasn't.
Tom came to Bozeman in 1965, He was a stringy, 6-foot tall kid barely wider than the pole that vaulted him into the track record books at Butte High School.
He drove a hotrod of his own creation and skateboarded the streets of Bozeman before anyone knew what a half pipe was. He majored in architecture at Montana State University, but life on his own for the first time as a young man with juvenile diabetes complicated things. Later, so did marriage and fatherhood.
He met his wife of 45 years at a Friday dance at the MSU Student Union Building. Freshman weren't allowed to drive and Tom his cousin Chuck Bliss caught a ride back to the dorms with Donna Spieth and one of her girlfriends. After that, Tom just kept showing up, Donna said. They married in 1967 and their first son, Thomas, was born the following spring. Soon afterward Tom was selling his 1940 Ford hotrod to weatherman John Pulaski. Tom needed to buy a work truck and become a carpenter. The old manifold and triple carburetor setup Tom stripped from his1940 Ford still sets on the garage shelf where he placed it in 1972, months after his second son, Shane, was born. He picked up his tools and never looked back.
Tom was an old-school builder, who hand drove his nails and crafted his own trim with table saw jigs and dado heads. He could build an entire balcony rail with nothing but dowels, leaving people to wonder, how it all stayed together.
It did stay together. For 40 years, Tom steadfastly ordered his Lutey Construction crews to "build it once and build it right." He warned them repeatedly that "the world hates and amateur," until the words rang in their ears on every job from Wisdom to Plentywood.
But they endured Tom's words because Tom endured them. He accepted the burden of not resting until he found work for his crew, and in the worst of times, Tom paid himself last. He never truly retired.
Until it all went bad, the last day Tom was conscious was going pretty good. Tom had picked out his clothes for Easter service, sat down for a late morning Saturday breakfast with Donna and mapped out the hiding spots for his three grandchildren's holiday eggs. He never let a day go by without telling his wife he loved her or how beautiful she was, not even his last.
He is survived by brother Jim Lutey, of Butte, wife Donna Lutey, sons Thomas (wife Teresa), of Billings, and Shane (wife Whitney) Lutey, of Bozeman, and their families.
Tom was preceded in death by his parents Andreanna and Thomas B. Lutey.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 27 at the Evangelical Free Church in Bozeman. The family requests that memorial donations be given to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in Tom's name.

Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Apr. 21, 2013