Thomas Nelson Godfrey, age 95, passed away Thursday, August 6, 2015 at Park Vista, Waupaca, WI.
He was born on June 27, 1920 in Waupaca, WI to Myron and Mabel (Nelson) Godfrey. He married the former Eloise Misdall of Waupaca in 1945. They were together for 69 years before her passing on September 22, 2014. Tom graduated from Waupaca High School in 1938 and enrolled at UW-Madison. World War II interrupted his senior year. He enlisted in the Army Air Corp, completed OCS (Officer Candidate School), and from 1943 through 1945 he served in the 8th Air Force as an armaments officer at Kings Cliff Field in England. He remained in the Air Force Reserve until April 1962 and retired as a Major. After the war, he returned to Madison and completed his bachelor’s degree in Business Agriculture Engineering. From 1946 to 1950 Tom was employed by the Campbell Soup Company as a purchasing agent working in Kenosha, WI and Toledo, OH. Tom returned to Waupaca in 1950 and went into business with his father, Myron “Mike” Godfrey, the Studebaker dealer since 1915, operating at 111 W. Union Street. In 1962, Tom expanded the company to include the farm equipment/implement dealership signing a contract with International Harvester. Tom retired in 1987, ending 72 years of a family business at that location.
Tom’s love for the community of Waupaca has a historical perspective; his great-grandfathers on both sides of the family homesteaded the Waupaca area in the 1850s. He embraced the hometown perspective and felt a responsibility to contribute his time and energy in a positive way. The list of community involvement is extensive: he was President of the Waupaca Conservation League; member of the Waupaca VFW; County Red Cross Chairman; President of the Waupaca Association of Commerce (now the Chamber of Commerce); one of the original organizers of the Waupaca Community Chest; member of the Riverside Hospital Board for 25 years; served a three-year term as a member of the National Dealer Council of International Harvester; served as Chairman of the Waupaca Police and Fire Commission and was a member for 39 years; member for more than 30 years and later Chairman of the Farmers State Bank Board of Directors; Secretary of the Waupaca Industrial Development Corporation; member of the Small Business Administration Advisory Council; and treasurer of the First United Methodist Church, Waupaca. Tom was a 60 year member of Waupaca Lodge 123 of the Free and Accepted Masons and served twice as Master of the Lodge. Tom was honored by the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce as 1989 Person of the Year and he was city council Citizen of the Year in 1998.
Tom traveled the world with Eloise and they were devoted Badger and Packer fans! He was an avid curler, occasional golfer, and enjoyed Thursday dinners with the guys.
Tom was a loving and generous father and grandfather. He is survived by three children: Brian Godfrey (Sharon), Waupaca, WI; Melinda Jankowski (Michael), Burnsville, MN; and Shelley Olinger (Mike), Burnsville, MN. He also leaves behind five grandchildren: Philip Godfrey, Lauren and David Jankowski, Megan Thoe (Erik), and Eric Olinger (Jessica), and a great-grandson, Liam Godfrey.
A Celebration of Life will be held on Wednesday, August 12, 2015 at 4:00 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church of Waupaca, WI with visitation from 2:00 p.m. until the time of the service. Pastor Dee Ann Woods will officiate. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to a favorite charity or to the Riverside Health Foundation Inc. The Holly Funeral Home of Waupaca is assisting the family with arrangements.