News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 17, 2012

Thomas W. Fields


--- — MONTEZUMA — Thomas W. Fields, passed away on Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012, at Woodland Manor Nursing Home, in Attica. He was born Oct. 11, 1919, to John C. and Effie L. Fields, in Wellington, Kans. He attended Montezuma school, where he, his wife Frances, and son and daughter had Miss Ayers as their third-grade teacher. He graduated from Montezuma High School in 1938, where he had played on the basketball team. In 1938, along with his friend, Joe Woods, he went to CCC camp in Henryville, Utah, where he played baseball among his other duties. Tom was the first man drafted from Montezuma during World War II, in the U.S. Army. In memory of his service his name will be on the bricks at the Montezuma Veterans Memorial.

Tom married Frances Toro on May 23, 1942, and she became a war bride. Tom was in the Army longer than some, because he was considered essential to the war effort as he participated in the land lease program of releasing all the military vehicles. When he returned to the states he got to meet his son, Victor, who was born on July 24, 1941. He worked at the Booster Station, where he also played baseball. He and his wife and son then moved for a time to Hungry Horse, Mont., where he worked on the dam. While there, Frances and Vic were able to attend one of the last meetings of the Blackfoot Nation. When the family returned to Montezuma they eventually moved into Frances’ family home, which when sold in 1986 had been in the family for 100 years. Tom then spent the rest of his career as a union carpenter, of which in Montezuma, he held several offices and was instrumental in the buying and selling of the union hall building which has just recently been torn down. He told the story that as a child he remembered cars going by his family home and men were shooting at his father because he also belonged to the union, which was not well thought of in those days. His last job was working on construction at the Lilly Plant at Clinton. Frances once asked him if he could live anywhere in the world where would it be and he said Montezuma, Ind. Tom enjoyed his golfing days and was a life time member of Montezuma Fish and Game Club. Frances passed on in 1985, and in 1986 he married Jeanne Akers Mathas. He then moved to Jeanne’s family farm outside of Montezuma, where they lived for several years before moving to Rockville. Jeanne who was a kind and gracious lady then passed on in 2000. Tom spent his later years playing Mexican Train in West Union at the Juritsma home with friends. He became well known at the local restaurants, Janet’s and Davey’s — Montezuma, and Benjamin’s in Rockville, where he enjoyed visiting with all the employees and owners of the establishments. He became the unofficial Montezuma historian and enjoyed recalling the past with whoever cared to hear the stories.

Tom also was preceded in death by his parents; and a stepson, Kim Mathas.

Survivors include his son, Victor (Sharon) Fields of Montezuma; grandchildren, Chris (Christan) and Heather Fields; great-grandchildren, Caitlyn, Hannah, Lauren and Sean; daughter, Barbara Keller (Roger) of Attica; and grandson, Curtis (Kristin) Keller of Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.; stepchildren, LeeAnn (Gary) Stewart and family, Alisa Mathas and family; special friends, Mr. and Mrs. Carl Hall of Rockville, Sam Phillips of Indianapolis, Jack Wilburn of Montezuma; and his longtime dining companion, Betty Jennings of Terre Haute.

Visitation will be Friday, Oct. 19, 2012, from 12 noon to 1 p.m., with services at 1 p.m., at the Montezuma Presbyterian Church, with the Rev. Mark Olsen officiating. Burial will be in Oakland Cemetery. Brown-Mack Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Presbyterian Church or Montezuma Elementary School, Box 400, 459 Strawberry Road, Montezuma, IN 47862, for the financial support of staff and students. In his memory, please visit your local nursing homes and assisted living facilities.