His health was strong until the moment His Father called him home. Indeed, he had set out on his routine Sunday morning run, and he ran straight into the arms of Jesus. Tom was born on September 24, 1944 in Waupaca, WI to the late William Zempel and Gladys (Moran) Zempel. Raised on the farm, Tom never knew anything but hard work, rugged perseverance, and trusting God to give the harvest, and those habits of mind and body shaped all of his life and ministry. Tom did his undergraduate work at Pillsbury Baptist Bible College, took his graduate degree from Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Minneapolis, MN, and completed his doctorate in Biblical Counseling at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, PA. Tom’s 42 years of ministry included youth pastorates in Rockford, IL and then in Danville, IL; Professor of Bible and Counseling at his college alma mater; nearly ten years as senior pastor in Windsor Locks, CT; Vice President and Professor of Biblical Counseling at his seminary alma mater for 17 years. The past five years of Tom’s ministry were invested as Counseling Pastor of Colonial Baptist Church and Professor of Biblical Counseling at Shepherds Theological Seminary in Cary, NC. He also served as an elder at the church and taught the Crossroads ABF class. Tom was a marvelously effective teacher and mentor, an innovative and boldly adventurous thinker, a friend who could be counted on in every situation, a singularly devoted husband, father, and grandfather—but above and beneath all of that, he was a delightfully happy and committed follower of his Savior and Friend, Jesus Christ.
Tom is survived by his wife and soul-mate of 48+ years, Jane [Elliott]; son Jonathan (Renee), son Benjamin, and daughter Amy Hazard (Neil), and eight grandchildren: Sophia, Noah, Elise, and Megan Zempel; and Grant, Wesley, Ty, and Marley Hazard, as well as one foster grandbaby; brothers, Larry (Sharon) and Ronald (Lynn) Zempel; sisters, Deborah Kottke and Jolene Gassen; brother-in-law Robert Elliott (Karen); sisters-in-law, Ruth (David) Ihrig, LouAnn (Brian) Doolittle, and Terri Jo Quella; as well as 21 nieces and nephews.
A memorial service and celebration of Tom’s life and ministry will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 30, 2016 at Colonial Baptist Church, 6051 Tryon Road, Cary, NC. Visitation will be from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Church. Burial will be in Raleigh Memorial Park in Raleigh, NC. www.brownwynnecary.com. Memorial contributions can be made to Shepherds Theological Seminary, 6051 Tryon Road, Cary, NC 27518.