Dr. Thomas's Story
Dr. Thomas Plamondon Sr., age 96, of Traverse City, passed away Thursday, April 20, 2017 in the loving care of his family.
On Nov. 13, 1920 a spectacular event occurred for Ovilla Joseph Plamondon and Mamie (Martineau) Plamondon, of Lake Leelanau. Their oldest son, David, was born that day.
"Tommy," as he was called during his childhood, would grow up to be a born leader. As a young lad he was the first in town to have a bicycle, which he earned by saving candy bar wrappers from customers in his dad's general store, "O.J.'s."
St. Mary High School did not have a track team so Tommy became the coach and also participated as a runner. He organized a high school baseball team by arranging to borrow equipment from the village team. Tommy's desire at this point in his life was to be a pitcher for the Detroit Tigers! Tommy was captain of his high school basketball team and was the leading scorer.
At age 15 Tommy observed some CCC men come to his home asking for a drink of water after a day of digging ditches in the hot sun; this made him stop and think about his future career. Soon after that Tommy drove his mother to the optometrist office to replace her broken glasses and realized that would be perfect profession for him!
One evening during his junior year in high school Tommy was walking home after attending a church youth group. He noticed a car parked along the sidewalk with four high school seniors in it. Tommy had been known as "shy" around girls. The driver said to him, "Do you want to kiss my girl?" Tommy asked, "Who is she?" The driver responded, "Viola Bunek." Tommy said, "Sure." So he walked around the passenger side and kissed Viola through the open window. The rest is history. They became high school sweethearts.
Tommy graduated from high school in 1938, and at the young age of 17 he entered Northern Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago that September. Four years later he graduated with his Doctor of Optometry degree. On July 7, 1942 Dr. Tom married his high school sweetheart, Viola Bunek.
In 1944 Dr. Tom entered the armed forces, where he served 17 months in the eye clinic of the 234th General Hospital in Chhabra, India, assisting Major A.C. Chandler, ophthalmologist. Dr. Tom took many photos while in India, which is a myriad of information about the China Burma India Theater of World War II. On June 5, 1946 Dr. Tom was discharged from the Army. He and his wife then moved to Grand Rapids, where he was employed as an optometrist.
Dr. Tom purchased an optometry practice in Traverse City, and in 1947 daughter, Carolyn, was born; three years later son, Thomas Jr., was born. The family lived on 11th Street in Traverse City, and seven years later son, David, was born.
Dr. Tom was devoted to his family, religion, eye care practice and was a philanthropist. He loved to help out the underprivileged and made them feel like they were the most important persons in the world.
Dr. Tom enjoyed boating at his home on West Bay and also at the family cottage on Lake Leelanau. Picnics at the lake were a frequent event when his family was young. He loved spending time with his children and grandchildren watching the Tigers and Notre Dame games on TV with them. He also followed Traverse City St. Francis athletics and enjoyed watching his granddaughters, Dr. Janelle Gloss Routhier pitch softball, and Callista Gloss act in the TCSF theater.
Dr. Tom was a member of St. Mary Church in Lake Leelanau, where he and his wife, Viola, were named benefactors of the year and have an annual tuition scholarship given out to a parish student in their names. He also donated the new electronic basketball scoreboard for the St. Mary gym.
After relocating to Traverse City Dr. Tom became a member of the Elks, Lions Club, Third Order of Mount Carmel, Michigan Optometric Association, lifelong member of Illinois College of Optometry Alumni and St. Francis Church. There he helped out in many activities and was instrumental in keeping TCSF High School open and thriving. Dr. Tom was inducted into the Grand Traverse Area Catholic Schools Hall of Fame in 2008.
A man in his 40s, blind since birth, gained total eyesight after a thorough eye exam by Dr. Plamondon. The man referred to Dr. Tom as "My Miracle Man." This is one of the reasons why we call Dr. Tom our "St. Thomas." He was also very generous with his time and made many financial gifts to people and charitable organizations.
Dr. Tom was preceded in death by infant twins, Joseph and Joan; parents, Ovilla and Mamie; son, David in 1999; wife of nearly 60 years, Viola in 2002; brothers, Richard, James and Cletus; and sisters, Dorothy, O.P., Rose Lee and Mary Jane.
Left to continue their love for him are his daughter, Carolyn Gloss (Ron); son, Dr. Tom Plamondon Jr. (Annmarie); daughter-in-law, Maggie Plamondon; grandchildren, Dr. Janelle Routhier (Franklin), of Dallas Texas, Callista Gloss (fiance, Kyle Sullivan), of Grand Rapids, Lane Plamondon, of Traverse City, and Monique Plamondon, of Traverse City; and sisters, Helen Raymond, Jeanne Curran and Marilyn Plamondon. Dr. Tom is also survived by many cousins, nieces and nephews.
The family wishes to express their gratitude to Tammy, Nicole, Ruth, Aleec, Jen, Amber, Katelyn, Shaylee and other caregivers for the love and care they gave Dr. Tom during his stay at Cherry Hill Haven. Thanks also to Hospice of Michigan for their loving support.
A visitation for Dr. Tom will be held at the Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home on Tuesday, May 2, 2017, from 6 to 8 p.m., with a rosary recitation at 7:30 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held the next day on Wednesday, May 3, 2017, at 11 a.m., with a visitation one hour prior, at St. Francis Catholic Church. Fr. Kenneth Stachnik will officiate. A luncheon will be served after Mass in the church fellowship hall. Graveside services with full military honors will take place at 3 p.m. on Wednesday at St. Mary Cemetery in Lake Leelanau.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Dr. Tom's name to St. Francis Catholic Church, 1025 S. Union Street, Traverse City, MI 49684; Grand Traverse Catholic Schools, 123 E. 11th Street, Traverse City, MI 49684; St. Mary Catholic Church, 403 St. Mary Street, Lake Leelanau, MI 49653; or Wounded Warrior Project, PO Box 758517, Topeka, Kansas 66675-8517.
Please share a memory with the family by visiting Dr. Tom's tribute page found at www.reynolds-jonkhoff.com.
The Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home and Cremation Services is serving the family.
Published on April 30, 2017