For 67 years Thomas Joseph Schoepf quietly cared for his family and fulfilled his obligations to students, parents, and staff at the schools where he worked. He never sought the spotlight, but always left an impression, humbly building a legacy that will endure for generations.
Tom died at home with his wife and children on August 9, 2018, after a nearly three-year battle with kidney cancer. Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:30 A.M. Tuesday, August 14, 2018 at St. Marys Catholic Church in Little Falls. Visitation will be 4:00 8:00 P.M. Monday, August 13, 2018 at Emblom Brenny Funeral Service in Little Falls and one hour before mass at the church on Tuesday. A private interment at St. Thomas Cemetery in Aitkin, MN, will follow the services.
Tom was born on April 12, 1951 in Deming, New Mexico, to Charles and Mary Schoepf. When Tom was young, the family moved to Aitkin, Minnesota, where Tom cultivated a passion for horses that lasted the rest of his life.
After graduating from Aitkin High School, Tom attended the University of Minnesota, Duluth. While there, Tom met his future wife and soulmate, Sara Eddleston, and obtained a degree in Speech Pathology. The couple married on December 27, 1975, while their students were on Christmas break, and began their life together in Wausau, WI. Tom and Sara welcomed their first child, Kathryn, while living in Wausau, and also completed their masters degrees in education.
Tom and Sara moved to Little Falls in 1979, where Tom accepted a job as coordinator of early childhood special education for Midstate Education District. Tom and his family remained in Little Falls for 21 years, adding a second child, Michael, building a home and several barns for the horses, making memories at the family cabin on Lake Alexander, and touching the lives of hundreds of children with special needs, and their families, who passed through the schools Tom served.
Tom completed his career at Independent School District 197 in West St. Paul, where he served as director of special education and interim superintendent. Tom retired to the family cabin near Cushing in 2010 and made the most of his short retirementtraveling in Florida, Hawaii and the Caribbean with Sara, riding and grooming his horses in preparation for shows around the country, training his dog, Daisy, and, most importantly, cherishing as much time as possible with his five grandchildren, who adored their grandfather and were adored by him.
Tom will be greatly missed by all who knew him, but his legacy will continue to grow and remind us of him everyday. He will always be with us in the horses he rode, the homes he built, the family he nurtured, and the kindness he showed to the people he met along the way.
Tom is survived by his wife of almost 43 years, Sara of Cushing, MN; his daughter Kathryn of Mendota Heights, MN, and her husband Scott Nelson and children Elsa and Isaac; his son Michael of Bismarck, ND, and his wife Valerie and children Frances, John, and Mary; his mother, Mary of Aitkin, MN; his siblings Betsy Blaufuss of Pine City, MN, and Chuck of Aitkin; and numerous brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, godchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends. Tom was preceded in death by his father, Charles; his brother, David; and Saras parents, Richard and Kathryn Eddleston.
As an alternative to flowers, the family is accepting contributions to the Thomas J. Schoepf Memorial Scholarship fund. The scholarship is being established to assist deserving students pursuing careers in education or other public service.