American Veteran 04

Thomas E. Dygert

October 30, 1937 ~ September 3, 2023 (age 85) 85 Years Old
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Tom Dygert ended months of suffering on September 3, 2023 when he passed away at IU West Hospital with family at his side.  Thomas E. Dygert’s was a life very well lived, and he is now a participant of Heaven’s joy as one of its newest citizens.

Tom was born to Alger and Myrl Dygert, the fifth of seven children, on October 30, 1937 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  He grew up learning to work by way of paper routes and the creamery.  His love for motorized vehicles began with his Whizzer, a bicycle with the addition of a gas-powered engine.  His passion for sport and competition was displayed in his swimming career at Ottawa Hills High School (class of 1955) and later at Grand Rapids Junior College (class of 1959).  In between, he toured the Cold War era Asia Pacific region aboard the USS Stembel (1956-1958), spending time in Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the Philippines.

In 1960, Tom married former homecoming queen Betty (Smith) and also started a 40 year career with the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company in sales.  The 60s were spent building family and career and immersed in the life of Standale Baptist Church.  Three children were born over the decade (Todd, Lori and Dave), and life was centered around immediate and extended family in and around Grand Rapids.  His love of motorized machines was best displayed in figuring out how to order his company cars with the biggest available engines (383 and 440 Plymouths, 427 Chevy) without losing his job.

In 1970, he accepted a regional manager job with Wrigley and left his deep Michigan roots to plant anew in the hard clay of Indiana.  Not unexpectedly, the transition was a challenge at first, but Tom and Betty persevered with strong support from family, coupled with Betty’s generous helping of Dutch fortitude.

Tom continued to find time to pursue his hobbies over the next decades.  Highlights include the annual deer hunting trip to Marenisco, Michigan with his brother-in-law, Fred, and with a host of other family members over the years.  This was the pursuit of the mythical Marenisco Monster Buck which surprisingly remains at-large.  On one of these trips, he had the pleasure of a face-to-face meeting with one of the local residents in the form of a big black bear.  Tom persuaded that bear to take up a floor-covering vocation, and unlike the mythical buck, it has done its job as a rug in the family home ever since.  He also raced off-road motorcycles successfully for many years. In his early 60s, he spent time snowmobiling in northern Michigan with his sons.  His Yamaha triple cylinder snowmobile only functioned at very high speeds and at wide open throttle.

Post-retirement, he finally bought a proper pickup truck, continued riding motorcycles, and spent time hunting and hanging out in Veedersburg with Lori’s family.  And life revolved around those of his six grandchildren. He was very proud of each of their accomplishments in a variety of dimensions, including general character, sports, work ethic, shared love for the outdoors, writing, and academic achievement.  Most notable recent events include Joseph’s graduation from US Army Ranger School and Chloe’s recent gold medal in the 2023 cycling time trial World Championships.                                                                                                         

His service to Betty and the grace he was given and displayed in his recent suffering must be his crowning achievement.  He selflessly performed the caretaker role for Betty over an extended period of time as she suffered from aggressive dementia.  This was all-consuming.  In addition, his physical suffering was intense, especially since early May, 2023.  Remarkably, he always kept a positive attitude and always cared as much about the devoted nursing aides, nurses and doctors as they cared for him.  Consistent with his life focused on individual people and their lives, he always knew their names and something significant about each of them, and in the midst of his suffering he brightened their days.

Tom was predeceased by father, Thomas Alger Dygert (1984), mother Myrl (Zahm) Dygert (1999).  He was also predeceased by sisters Ila Vawter (2004) and Janice Moss (2021).

He is survived by wife, Betty (Smith) Dygert; children, Lori (John) Medjeski, David (Jessica) Dygert, and Todd (Ronda) Dygert; grandchildren, Jonathan, Joseph (Jenna), Gunner, Chloe, Josh, and Brittany; and great-grandchildren, Briar Rose and Thorin.  

He is also survived by sisters, Arda Cushman, Jackie Fennema, Mary Bandy, and brother, Alan Dygert.

Funeral Services will be held at 1 pm, Friday, September 8 in the Eric MD Bell Funeral Home, where friends are invited to gather with the family from 11 am until the time of the funeral service. 

He will be laid to rest in Bethesda Cemetery, Brownsburg with Naval Military Honors in recognition of his service to his country. 

In lieu of flowers memorial gifts are suggested to the Wounded Warrior Project.

All are encouraged to keep the family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. 

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Thomas E. Dygert, please visit our floral store.

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September 8, 2023

11:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Eric MD Bell Funeral Home and Cremation Services

Funeral Service
September 8, 2023

1:00 PM
Eric MD Bell Funeral Home and Cremation Services


Wounded Warrior Project
7020 A.C. Skinner Parkway, Suite 100, Jacksonville FL 32256
Tel: 1-877-832-6997


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