Thomas “Tom” Michael Mate, 78 of Rochester died to life with Christ on Saturday, October 16, 2021 at Woodlawn Hospital surrounded by his family.
Born August 26, 1943 in Chicago, he was the son of the late Paul and Francis Mate. During his teen years, he worked for the IC Central Railroad with his father.
Tom achieved his childhood dream and became a Chicago fireman, his career lasting 32 years. He became an Engineer on Engine 13 stationed in downtown Chicago. He told many of us “If you love your job, you never work a day in your life”. He spent summers at Yogi Bear Campground with his family. Fishing with his son, Tom always was a highlight, catching fish at a lake and bringing them back to let them go in the pond at Yogi.
He started a fire department and built a pole barn with his friends, that was used to store the fire truck he purchased with the help of his friends. He always organized picnics and 4th of July parties. He never left a good occasion for a party undone.
While working as a fireman, he owned and operated a family business, an ornamental iron shop. His “Hobby” job became his full time job. In 1989, he helped his daughter start Upright Iron Works. He worked for her until his death.
In 1998, he purchased a building in Kewanna and opened Luke’s Products and Auction. It was a place he and Luke could buy and sell items. He just loved the small town with a big heart.
He wintered in Florida organizing many block parties for the 55 plus park residents and many friends. The block parties included a whole day of fun for hundreds of people, from Elephant rides and circuses to food and games all day. He was always getting people involved to work hard and still enjoy the fun. Tom didn’t know it was work.
His passion for the last 18 years was the Kewanna Fall Festival. He and Luke, along with his new friend Ashley, pulled it off again this past September. He gave his all to having a festival that everyone could enjoy with free activities for all. This was all done with the help of hundreds of sponsors. Tom had a true gift to make people happy.
He is survived by the love of his life, Diane Mate, Rochester, who he married in 1969, daughter, Elizabeth “Beth” Mate-Bias and husband, Charlie of Crown point, son, Thomas D. Mate and wife Denise of Oak Forest, Illinois, son, Luke Mate of Rochester, daughter, Nancy Boerema and husband, Larry of Plainfield, Illinois, nine grandchildren, Devin, Hunter, Brooke, Lena, Law, Grace, Betty, Aniya and Izaac and brothers, Paul Mate (Joyce) and Robert Mate all of Illinois.
He is also preceded in death by brother, Don Mate U.S. Army and grandchildren, Nathan and Rose.
Services will be at 1:00 p.m. EST, Saturday, October 23, 2021 at Calvary Evangelical Lutheran, 1314 N. Michigan St., Plymouth, Indiana. Pastor Eric Ahlemeyer will officiate.
Visitation will be from 2:00-8:00 p.m. EST, Friday, October 22, 2021 at Rans Funeral Homes, 123 E. Main St., Kewanna, Indiana and also one hour prior to the service on Saturday at the church.
In lieu of flowers, we are asking that donations be made payable to NICF in memo add Kewanna Fall Festival Fund in memory of Tom Mate or Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Rans Funeral Homes & Crematory, Metzger Chapel, 123 E. Main St., Kewanna.
Tom’s online guest book is available and condolences can be shared with the family at www.ransfuneralhomes.com.