Thomas Joe Harrell
Thomas Joe Harrell of Clermont, Florida, passed away peacefully on December 1, 2023, following a long and courageous battle with Lewy Body Dementia. Tom was born on August 11, 1949, in Niles, Michigan, the third of four sons of Lonnie Lee and Erna May (Smith) Harrell.
He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Patricia Coleman Harrell, son Eric Coleman Harrell (Jennifer) of Dublin, Ohio, daughter Melissa Elizabeth Harrell Hessert of Clermont, Florida, and son Matthew Thomas Harrell, of Clermont, Florida.
Tom is also survived by six grandchildren, Brendan Coleman and Charles Landan Harrell, and Brianne Lee, Alicia Rae, Devon Thomas, and Corina Rose Hessert, as well as two brothers, William Lee Harrell of Coarsegold, California and Ronald Lewis Harrell of Ventura, California. He is preceded in death by his parents and his brother Donald Edward Harrell of South Haven, Michigan.
Tom graduated from Lawton High School, Lawton, Michigan, class of 1967 and earned a BS in Electrical Engineering from Michigan State University in 1971.
Working in the power industry, Tom’s career spanned from Consumer’s Energy in Michigan, to ARAMCO in Saudi Arabia, to eventually forming his own consulting business, Group Orion LLC.
Family meant everything to Tom. He had a can-do attitude and literally built the first two family homes board by board, brick by brick. There was nothing Tom enjoyed more than spending time with family at his cottage on Gravel Lake, Lawton, Michigan. He loved all water sports, especially skiing and boating with family and passing those skills on to the next generation. While living in Saudi Arabia Tom loved world-wide travels. Some of Tom’s favorites were camping with the family through New Zealand, the floating gardens and gracious people in Thailand, the ruins in Greece, hiking in Switzerland with son, Eric, traveling through France with daughter, Melissa, and the many cities in Europe. Tom was always involved with his children and loved watching their sports and other activities and those of his grandchildren. He was a Cub Scout leader. While living in Arabia he especially liked Friday afternoon water volleyball games (Thursday and Friday are the weekend in Arabia), camping in the desert, and spending time at Half-Moon Beach on the Persian Gulf. In later years he enjoyed his cabin on Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and exploring the surrounding area geographically and historically.
Lewy Body Dementia is a horrible, nasty, disease testing the best of us. Tom fought the good fight with a positive attitude. He loved his Rock Steady Boxing classes for those with Parkinson or Parkinsonism. He was willing to try any program (for example Big and Loud) that might keep him communicating with us longer.
During his final year, while Tom ping-ponged from hospital to rehab, to hospital, to memory care assisted living, to hospital, etc. his son, Matthew, was his primary caregiver and was with him every day, all day. They always kept it light and fun. From doing wheelchair wheelies to one-twos in the gym while walking with a gate belt and walker, Matt made Tom’s final months positive and upbeat.
Tom was a member of Living Hope Church (formerly First United Methodist), Clermont, Florida, and was a founding member of the Boomers Sunday School Class.
Tom’s Celebration of Life will be held at Living Hope Church in Clermont on Saturday, December 16, 2023 at 1:00 p.m. in the sanctuary. Interment will be in the church’s Memorial Garden. Donations may be made in Tom’s honor to the Lewy Body Dementia Association at https://www.lbda.org which is an organization that is very helpful to those afflicted and their families as they deal with Lewy, and does research for prevention and looking for cures.