Originally Published: February 22, 2017 6 a.m.
Emil Thomas (Tom) Van Haecke 76, of Chino Valley, Arizona, avid reader, hiker and lover of Irish whiskey, died Dec. 14, 2016, in Prescott. Born July 26, 1940, in Libertyville, Illinois, to Andrew H. and Catherine E. (Lyons) Van Haecke, Tom spent his early years on the family’s Wisconsin dairy farm. He graduated from Grayslake Community High School in Illinois, and joined the Air Force, hoping to be a pilot. In spite of acing his written exam, Tom was disqualified from flying due to flat feet. He served in the 305th Bomb Wing at Bunker Hill Air Force S.A.C. Base, in Indiana, until his honorable discharge. Tom married Judy Miller June 5, 1965, at St. Gilbert’s Catholic Church in Grayslake.
Tom was an IBM field engineer for over 11 years, earning a prestigious IBM Means Service award. Tom and Judy bought the Baraboo Laundry & Dry Cleaners and moved to Wisconsin. They lived in Baraboo 24 years, and raised two daughters. Tom graduated magna cum laude with a computer science degree and re-entered IT, and the family moved to West Bend, Wisconsin.
A kidney transplant gave Tom a new life. After retiring, he and Judy moved to Arizona to enjoy the Arizona lifestyle. Ever the wishful-pilot, he always said, “If NASA ever wants to study transplant patients in space, I’m first in line.”
Preceded in death by his parents, Tom is survived by his loving wife, Judy; daughters Michele and Kathleen; brother Richard; sister Teresa and close cousin Denny; many in-laws; cousins; nieces; nephews and friends. And his beloved cat, Sir Winston Churchill.
Memorial service: 12:30 p.m. Feb. 25, Haas Interfaith Chapel, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, in Prescott. The family requests donations in Tom’s memory to the National Kidney Foundation in lieu of flowers.
Information provided by survivors.