July 16, 1959 - May 10, 2018
Thomas Lee Emerson, 58, of Williamsburg, was called home to rest in heavenly peace on May 10, 2018. It happened so fast - it was as if he was responding to a 911 call from Heaven that his help was needed, and away he went. He was born July 16, 1959 to the late Jack and Betty (Andersen) Emerson in Traverse City. His one and only sibling, Barbara, was thrilled to have a brother, and later in life she nicknamed him "Precious." The name spread rapidly and stuck with him for years - it was a name he couldn't shake. The name fit as so many people found him to be truly precious. During his childhood years Tom and several neighborhood friends enjoyed developing their own police force and patrolled the neighborhood on bicycles. Tom always dreamed of becoming a police officer and firefighter as he had many family friends who were policemen and firefighters. Andy Griffith and Barney Fife were his most influential TV heros. This may have been the start of his informal schooling in law enforcement long before his high school graduation from Traverse City Senior High in 1978. After high school he began working with his dad at Doug Linder Tire Company in Traverse City. He joined the Grand Traverse County Sheriff's Reserve Unit in 1980. He started his educational journey at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City and obtained his associate's degree in law enforcement in 1984. He graduated from the Kalamazoo Police Academy in 1985. Tom married the love of his life, Victoria (Vickie) Send, Sept. 6, 1986, and they made their home in Williamsburg. Both enjoyed living in the country within walking distance to the nature trails, township park and Elk Lake. Tom always made some form of exercise and weight lifting a priority and rarely missed it. Walking together holding hands never went out of style, and the dogs enjoyed those walks as well. It allowed time to enjoy the peace and quiet of the country and a special time to reconnect and talk. Visiting on the deck with family and friends was cherished, and we always enjoyed a barbecue or an outdoor bonfire. The best form of relaxation was spending the day on Elk Lake enjoying a boat ride or traveling through the Chain of Lakes via pontoon boat with friends and family aboard or riding personal watercrafts on a calm day. Tom was always the leader of the pack when riding four-wheelers with others, as he knew those trails better than anyone else did. Tom loved spending time working on projects in the pole building - whether it be restoring a jeep or John Deere tractors. He was known to get equipment and vehicles that he would modify, such as a large Army truck, and cut axles off and shorten and paint and convert into what is now, Whitewater Township's brush truck - and is truly a beautiful end product of a lot of hours of work of numerous people. Tom often had a vision of a project and could make it happen. Toms favorite role in life was being a dad, and what a special relationship he had from the moment he laid eyes on his daughter, Ericka, who was born in 2002. Those who knew Tom knew you didn't touch his hair, but she could give him a new hairdo with small hair accessories and cover his head with them. She also liked to polish his fingernails. They enjoyed snuggle time on the couch, drawing pictures together of fire trucks, helicopters and anything else they chose. Family time with Ericka was his priority, she knew how much he loved her. Her greatest gift from him was not something she unwrapped, but growing up with a great role model and just being a good person. He will always be her hero and her biggest inspiration. "Every moment meant the world and I will cherish the memories." The greatest gift he could ever give was his time, ability to listen and love. During his 30-year career in law enforcement with the Grand Traverse Sheriff's Office, Tom had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and higher education. He was a self motivated individual with high standards and exceptional work ethics and professionalism. He enjoyed being a resource person for many and enjoyed mentoring new employees and sharing his knowledge. His presence during stressful situations had a calming effect on many, as people knew if Tom was there - everything would be okay- he could get the job done - no matter what it may be. He completed his bachelor's degree from Lake Superior University in 1999 in criminal justice and obtained a master's degree from Eastern Michigan University in 2001 in liberal studies. He enjoyed working as marine deputy in 1983 and deputy sheriff in 1984. He always strove to do more and held roles as detective in 1993, sergeant in 1994 and lieutenant in 2000. He became captain of the Field Services Division in 2001 with 51 officers for nine years. During the 30 years he also held special assignments and was member of the Dive Team and member of the Northern Michigan Mutual Aid Emergency Response Team for three years. He supervised special teams to include Crash and Arson Investigation Teams, Dive Team, Emergency Response Team and the K-9 unit. His list of education and volumes of specialized training and experience made for a knock-em dead type resume. He was a humble man and didn't really share what he really was or boast about what he accomplished. The Village of Elk Rapids has been blessed to have him as the chief of police since March of 2011, and his death will leave a large void in the community. Tom also fulfilled his dream of being a firefighter and took it to the highest level of training and certifications possible over the years. He spent numerous years at Whitewater Fire Department as a medical first responder/firefighter. He later moved on to the Elk Rapids Fire Department. He took great pride in teaching new incoming fire fighting students at The Northwest Regional Fire Training Center. He couldn't stop there; he always had many projects going in his life. Most recently he was instrumental in the creation of a Public Safety Training Center in Elk Rapids. He made a major impact on both the Whitewater and the Elk Rapids Fire Departments. Tom was recruited to join the Elk Rapids Police Department as chief of police in March of 2011 (he had just been retired from Grand Traverse County for four months). He saw the need to help a community in so many ways and began making upgrades in equipment and vehicles with his ability to network and call upon resources to help out on a tight budget. Tom's passion as a community servant brought a active involvement in the schools and the community by having much more police involvement. Tom was passionate about keeping the students safe, as well as keeping drugs out of the school system. He worked well with his good, subtle sense of humor and was known for honesty, integrity and fairness. Tom inspired many with an impact and quality that few people possess. He was in fact the absolute package. Tom was the rock that provided immediate comfort and safety with his presence. When he was around, you just knew it was going to be okay. He was a humble man and didn't boast, but his dedication to his career and his family earned him the respect of all who knew him. He could make you laugh until your stomach hurt, pull a prank on you like no other, always out of love. He was the hero and the friend. He had a love for many things, his John Deere tractors, adventures while boating or four wheeling, playing in his man cave (pole building) and hanging with his friends. But in the depths of all his love, he had two true loves, his wife and daughter. He was overly dedicated to his career, but at the end of the day it was always put aside to be in the forefront of his daughter's world. He may have had plenty of tools in his garage to fix stuff, but none of which compared to the tools that came from within. All of these snippets of memorable traits barely scratch the surface of the man Tom truly was. He is survived and missed dearly by his wife, Victoria "Vickie"; his beautiful daughter and best friend, Ericka and her close friend, Jacob Deshasier; sister, Barbara Maue; niece, Meghan (Roger) Maue-Gondal; Megan's stepson, Kylor; and aunts and uncles, Richard and Arlene Emerson, Jean and Jack Horn, Joanne and Dale Gary; numerous cousins; mother and father-in-law, Richard and Rose Send; as well as brother-in-law, Steven Send and their children, Stephanie, Isaiah and Zachary Send and Jonathan Gray; brother-in-law, Douglas (Jenny) Send and their children, Joseph, Marissa, Gianna, Maria, Jacinta, Felicity and Miriam; as well as his family's four-legged companion, Buddy, the German shepherd. He was preceded in death by grandparents, Vern and Viola Emerson, Chris and Lucille Anderson; brothers-in-law, Scot Maue and Robert Send; and sister-in-law, Betty Lou Korson-Send. May the memory of his presence fill your heart and encourage you to live, love and laugh as he did with passion and enthusiasm. Visitation will take place Sunday, May 20, 2018, from 4:30 to 8 p.m., at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church Hall. A vigil service will be prayed from 4 to 4:30 p.m. A celebration of life will take place Monday, May 21, 2018, at the New Hope Church, at noon, with visitation from 10:30 a.m. to noon. If you would like to make a donation in memory of Thomas Emerson, please consider giving your time to what you are passionate about; it really doesn't matter what because the world will always be a better place after we give of ourselves. Tom knew this very well. A Thomas Emerson memorial fund is set up at Fifth Third Bank for those who would like to contribute. Please visit www.reynolds-jonkhoff.com to share your memories and condolences with the family on Tom's tribute page. The family is being cared for and served by the Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home and Cremation Services.
Thomas Lee Emerson, 58, of Williamsburg, was called home to rest in heavenly peace on May 10, 2018. It happened so fast - it was as if he was responding to a 911 call from Heaven that his help was needed, and away he went. He was born July... View Obituary & Service Information
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