Obituaries » Thomas Martin Warme
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March 17, 2021
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Thomas Martin Warme, the loving husband of Bunny, passed away on March 17, 2021.
Born September 27, 1935 in Minneapolis, MN to parents Martin Axel and Signe Elizabeth Warme, who separately immigrated from Sweden. He grew up in Minneapolis with his older sisters Arlene (Dolly) and Laura Mae, and his younger sister Mary Elizabeth, attended Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (the largest Lutheran church in the US at the time), and actively participated in the Luther League youth program, where he met his first wife Carol Diede. Tom’s parents actively encouraged his musical studies with 11 years of accordion lessons starting at age 6. He graduated from South High School in 1953, where he played basketball, was the prom king, and a prize-winning accordionist.
Tom went on to earn a degree in Music with a minor in Philosophy from Augsburg College in 1957, playing the clarinet in their highly acclaimed concert band. Tom married Carol Diede on July 6, 1957 at Holy Trinity Church, and entered Northwest Theological Seminary. After one year of seminary, Tom survived a boat accident on Lake Mille Lacs that claimed the life of Carol’s father, Fred Diede. Their first son Daniel John was born several months before Tom graduated in 1960, and was then ordained as a Lutheran pastor.
Tom’s first pastoral call brought them to Troy, MI to plant Prince of Glory Lutheran Church in neighboring Madison Heights, MI. Their second son David Michael was born there. His next call was to Saint Mark’s Lutheran Church in Neenah, WI, where he served until 1967. Tom then enlisted for a 3-year tour as a Chaplain in the US Army, entering at the rank of Captain. He served one of these years in Viet Nam where he earned several commendations, including a Bronze Star. When his enlistment ended, Tom returned to civilian ministry, pastoring at Resurrection Lutheran Church in Green Bay, WI while continuing to serve in the US Army Reserve.
After two years, Tom decided to re-enlist in the US Army for permanent active duty. During his 26 year Army career, Tom earned a Master’s degree from the US Army Chaplain School, Fort Wadsworth in 1976, and a Doctor of Ministry degree from McCormick Theological Seminary in 1984. His Army career included some of the most demanding and distinguished billets in the entire US Army Chaplaincy, including Chaplain of the Old Guard — the highly honored ceremonial unit that pays tribute to those laid to rest at Arlington Cemetery, including the US Army Honor Guard, Fife and Drum Corps, Drill team and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Tom retired from the US Army at the rank of Colonel in 1995.
Tom’s marriage to Carol ended in divorce after 30 years. He then married Barbara (Bunny) Vandegrift on May 13, 1989. Upon retirement from the US Army, Tom returned to civilian ministry, pastoring Messiah Lutheran Church in Alexandria, Virginia. After Tom retired from the ministry in 2000, he and Bunny moved to the home they built on the shore of Smith Mountain Lake in Moneta, Virginia. Even during retirement, Tom served the Virginia synod of the ELCA, doing supply preaching, serving on various committees, and performing other tasks as requested by the bishop. Tom and Bunny attended several churches in the region, but finally settled at Trinity Ecumenical Parish, a thriving community where the Episcopal, Lutheran and Presbyterian traditions worship together.
Tom is survived by his wife Bunny; his first wife Carol Warme (of Edina, MN); their son Daniel Warme (of Van Nuys, CA, with Jessie (Brian) Bengler and Conor); their son David (Rachel) Warme (of Annandale, VA, with Michael, Jensine (“Sina”) and Sarah); his sister Mary Malberg (of Edina, MN); and Bunny’s son Steve (Bev) Vandegrift (of Austin, TX, with Jenna, Carly and Mara).
Tom’s life and ministry were filled with care, encouragement and affirmation of others, and a love of music. His legacy includes countless people whose lives he touched in positive ways. He acted justly, loved mercy, and walked humbly with our God. He is deeply missed by those who knew him.
Instead of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be sent in memory of Thomas Warme to either the American Cancer Society, or to the Memorial Fund at Trinity Ecumenical Parish (40 Lakemount Drive, Moneta, VA 24121).
Tharp Funeral Home, Smith Mountain Lake is assisting the family.