Thomas W. Conklin

Thomas William ConklinConklin, Thomas 3/1/1938 – 1/1/2019 Lawrence, MI Thomas William Conklin, age 80, of Lawrence, MI passed peacefully from this life on New Year’s Day 2019, with family by his side. Thomas was born March 1, 1938, in Chicago, Illinois, a son of Clarence Robert and Ellen Pauline (Gleason) Conklin. He received his BA degree from Yale University in 1960 and his JD degree from University of Chicago in 1963. During the Vietnam War, he completed basic training with the U.S. Air Force and then joined the U.S. Navy, achieving rank of lieutenant while serving as an officer in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps until his honorable discharge in 1969. He practiced law from his admittance to the Illinois Bar in 1964, when he joined his father’s law firm in Chicago, until his retirement from the bar in 2012, while practicing in partnership with his son, Tom, Jr. in Chicago, IL. During his long career, he had numerous legal partnerships in Chicago. He was primarily a defense attorney and trial lawyer involved in local, state, district and federal cases. Although he tried many high profile cases, perhaps the most lasting result of his career was sharing of his knowledge and experience by mentoring those willing to apply the energy and methods needed to achieve results in accordance with his high legal and ethical standards. In 2007, he was selected by his peers to be named an Illinois Super Lawyer. Thomas always had an appreciation for the beauty and diversity of living things, especially plants. His hobby interest developed into a second profession as he studied and became an ISA Certified Arborist and a Michigan Certified Nurseryman. When he purchased Walnut Hill Farm in southwest Michigan in 1997, with his landscape architect partner, Joyce Latta of LaGrange, IL, it was with the intention to grow roses hardy enough to survive Michigan winters without protection. They held seminars, workshops, and tours of their many display gardens to teach others about roses, herbs, and woody plants. Thomas was a member of the American Rose Society for 48 years, an ARS accredited Rose Judge in the Great Lakes District, a Consulting Rosarian since 2002, was awarded the designation of Master Consulting Rosarian in 2015 for his many years of service, and served as President of the local ARS affiliate, the Southwest Michigan Celebration of Roses. Thomas loved all types of music, collecting various types of recording media, attending live performances, and supporting artists in the recording their performances. At a very young age, Thomas found solace in the written word. He had a special appreciation for the classics, poetry, and works of a religious nature. He used his vast collection as reference when he taught comparative religion classes. He was a Christian believer who practiced those principles daily. He was a member of the First Congregational Church in Bangor, MI, a member and was married in 2008, at the First Congregational Church in Kalamazoo, MI. He also attended services at the Family Gospel Church in Bangor, MI. Although he always had appreciated fine art, it wasn’t until his later years when he received a gift of a drawing class at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts from his wife, that he was finally able to develop his artistic creativity. He enjoyed interacting with the artist/instructors and other students as he learned to create with various media. Thomas believed in truth, kindness to one another, and equitable treatment of women. He was a loving generous person, an uncommon man who was making lasting friendships until the very end. He led a life rich in his association and interaction with people and beautiful things of this world. Thomas was preceded in death by his parents; a sister, Adrienne Stephens; and a step brother, Robert Burkoff. On June 7, 2008, he was united in marriage to Joyce E. Latta of LaGrange, IL, who survives. Also surviving, 2 children, Thomas W. (Ava Zacharuk) Conklin, Jr. of Park Ridge, IL and Sarah Conklin of Kansas City, MO; 2 grandchildren, Olivia Alicia Conklin and Charles Thomas Conklin; a sister, Melissa Pedersen of Arlington Heights, IL; in-laws Alice Zacharuk of Arlington Heights, IL, and Jack (Dawn) Zacharuk of Machesney Park, IL. Private cremation and ceremony has taken place. Memorials may be directed to the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts Kirk Newman Art School Scholarship Fund and the Rose Arbor Hospice Residence, a division of Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan. Langeland Family Funeral Homes, 622 S. Burdick St., Kalamazoo, MI

Published in Kalamazoo Gazette on Jan. 13, 2019