Thomas Rowden Loemker died September 7, 2020, just a few days shy of his 90th birthday. Tom was a loving and devoted husband for 60 years; a great father and successful businessman; a role model of ethical, principled behavior and civic responsibility; and a generous advisor to his friends and family.
Tom and his twin sister Elizabeth were born in New York City to Elmer and Dorothy Loemker. Tom grew up on 116th Street and learned to roller skate on the hills of Morningside Heights. He was a child of the Depression and World War II, and the lessons learned during those eras permeated his stories and perspective for the rest of his life. He believed in hard work, personal responsibility and mutual respect, and he encouraged every person he worked with to contribute to the greater good.
Tom spent his teenage years at the Holderness School in Vermont and summers on his uncle's farm learning to milk cows. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1952 and the Tuck School of Business in 1953. Tom served his country during the Korean War as a teletype operator in Kyoto, Japan. He credited his mother's insistence that he learn to type with keeping him off the front lines, and his time in Kyoto cemented a lifelong interest in Japan. In 1959, Tom met Marion, the love of his life, on a fortuitous blind date. He brought her roses every Valentine's Day whether she wanted them or not and wrote her a poem each year on her birthday. She regularly reminded her children that she was married to "the most wonderful man in the world."
After leaving the army, Tom joined Pitney Bowes, initially working in the finance department but quickly switching to sales and operations. When Pitney Bowes acquired Monarch Marking Systems, Tom and his family left Connecticut for Dayton, Ohio. Tom eventually became President of Monarch and embarrassed his children for years by entering grocery stores to talk to shelf stockers who were using Monarch's products, without ever mentioning he had a connection to the company. Most Saturday mornings, Tom could be found talking with employees on the factory floor; one of his proudest accomplishments was his record of attending the goodbye party for every retiring employee. The family moved back to Connecticut in 1981, when Tom was named President of Pitney Bowes Business Systems. In 1988, Tom joined Paxar Corporation as President. Under Tom's leadership Paxar acquired Monarch Marking Systems and, at the time of his retirement, Tom was again leading the company that had defined most of his career. He served on Paxar's board of directors until it was acquired by Avery Dennison.
Tom always made time for family. He took three weeks off every summer to take the family to national parks and destinations he thought important, from Pike's Peak, to Glacier National Park, to Shakespeare festivals, and to Broadway. He taught his daughters to play cutthroat cribbage in the back of the car, and exhorted them to sing a strange assortment of lyrics from Gilbert and Sullivan. He taught them to respect and revere the past, and to understand and appreciate the range of the American experience by dragging them to rodeos, gold mines and Native American reservations. Over endless family dinners, he taught his daughters to speak their minds and be informed in their opinions. Most Thanksgivings were spent with his twin sister's family, ensuring that his daughters and nephews forged strong bonds. In later years, Tom indulged his love of skiing and hosted the family for annual vacations in Vail, Colorado. As children and grandchildren aged, Tom decided to host an annual summer gathering at Migis Lodge in Maine, a tradition that continued for 15 years. Through those wonderful weeks at Migis, Tom gave his grandchildren the gift of extended family relationships.
Tom contributed to the world in myriad other ways, serving and then leading the United Way in Dayton, Ohio, working on various company boards, mentoring young entrepreneurs, donating his time to Dartmouth College, and ensuring that the people he loved had the support and resources they needed to succeed. Most of all, he was a force for good and he provided a clear example of what it means to live a life of purpose.
Tom is survived by Marion, his wife of 60 years, his twin sister Elizabeth, his daughters Mary (Peter) Berce, Elizabeth (David) Joyce, and Anne (Ben) Pratt, and six grandchildren (Maggie, Liza, Paul, James, Tommy and Jane).
Memorial donations can be made to Doctors Without Borders
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Published by River Journal from Sep. 9 to Sep. 10, 2020.