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Thomas P Hart

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Thomas P Hart

Place of birth: None

Religious affiliation: Catholic

Thomas P. Hart, loving family man, gregarious friend, WWII vet and proud Irishman, died on Sunday, March 5, 2017. He was born on July 15, 1921, to William Hart and Sadie Cashman Hart of Owatonna, Minnesota. He was preceded in death by his brother Jim Hart, his “adopted brother” Eugene Cruden and five sisters: Zenobia Hart, Mary Ralston, Margaret Van Demark, Ann Sullivan, and Jane Kapler, as well as by his beloved wife, Eleanor, who died last year. He is survived by his two children, Jeffrey T. Hart and Katherine E. Hart, and by many nieces and nephews.

His family moved from Owatonna to Golden Valley, Minnesota, when Tom was 6. His father owned and operated Hart’s Nursery in Golden Valley (now the site of Courage Center) until his death in the late 1930s. Tom then dropped out of De La Salle High School in Minneapolis to help his mother run the family greenhouse business. He joined the Army in 1942 and was selected for Officer Candidate School. Trained as a forward artillery observer, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the 96th Infantry Division. Later he served in the divisional honor guard for General MacArthur and was promoted to First Lieutenant.

Tom saw action in in the Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Philippines, and on Okinawa. There, in the course of the fierce 82-day battle, Tom was awarded the Bronze Star for heroic action enabling an infantry advance under heavy enemy fire at Kakazu Ridge. After the war ended, Tom served in the U.S. Army of Occupation in Jinhae, South Korea, at a former Japanese naval base, and he was promoted to Captain. After his discharge from active duty, he served in the Army Reserve, where he was promoted to Major.

Back in Minnesota, he worked for American School, selling correspondence courses throughout the Midwest to returning veterans. In July 1952 Tom married Eleanor R. Hart, his high school sweetheart. By then he was working at Skeffington’s Formal Wear in Minneapolis, where he became a Vice President in charge of several stores across the United States.

Tom was not only successful in business; he was also a generous and public-minded citizen who volunteered in many community activities. Thanks to his sponsorship, students overseas were able to attend and graduate from De La Salle High School. He also played in Duff’s Celebrity Heart Golf Tournament(s) for many years benefiting the heart association. Tom was also a president of the Minneapolis Minute Men, a group of business leaders who raised money in the 1950s for the construction of Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, where the Twins and Vikings played for many years. Later he was the first president of Olympic Hills Golf Club.

Tom was a wonderful husband and loving father. He will always be remembered for his Irish sense of humor and his gentle manner. His famous saying was “May you be in heaven 30 minutes before the devil knows you’re dead.“ He often took his daughter Katie and her girl friends horseback riding on Sundays after Mass. Jeff and Katie will miss their Dad very much. They will miss his bright eyes, laughter and gentle touch. But Tom has finally reached the best destination—heaven, to share eternity with his loving wife, Eleanor. He will be looking down on his children, guiding and waiting for them with open arms.

Tom will be cremated and will be buried in the Golden Valley Cemetery, according to his final wishes. A private mass will be said in his memory at the Church of the Basilica of Saint Mary; downtown Minneapolis and Ashes blessed privately at Sacred Heart Robbinsdale . Condolences may be sent to 5100 West Marie Lane, Golden Valley, MN 55422.

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