Life Story / Obituary
Tom Coyne passed away Sunday, January 14, 2024, following a brief battle with cancer. He loved a good story, both in the hearing and the writing. Sadly, this short notice cannot do justice to a life well-lived, only hit some highlights.
Eddie/Tom/Dad/Grandad was born in Chicago, IL on July 8, 1933, to Thomas Francis Coyne and Mary Kilcourse Coyne. He was the third of six children — his siblings and in-laws being Rosemary (Al Gebben); Eileen (James Morrison); Dorothy (Ray Fenwick); Jim (Kay); and Jack (Judy). Tom wrote, “I’ve told people all my life, I’ve been lucky. The first piece of luck was being born into a family that loved and cared for each other. Mom and Dad were a long way from their homes in Ireland, but they always talked about the relatives, both in Ireland and in the States, as if they were just next door. They were proud of being Irish and that pride has been instilled in all the Coyne children. Their sense of family, including extended family, was a gift.”
Tom grew up on the South Side of Chicago before moving to “The Farm” across from the Midlothian Country Club, a place that gave the Coyne children a lifelong love of country life and golf (even if none became pros). Tom spent his high school years at St. Ignatius Prep (“in my estimation, the best high school in the world”), learning from his Jesuit teachers and gaining introduction to his lifelong love of distance running. Running gave him an entry to college, and his children are forever grateful that he opted for Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI.
There, he met Monique Yvonne Jako in an American History class. They started dating and were married on August 27, 1955. To support their young family, Tom worked at a steel mill in Indiana, then delivered coal and fuel oil in Southeastern Michigan, then worked at a building construction firm in Chicago even as both he and Monique continued their education. With yet more luck, Tom landed a job in alumni relations at WMU and started a decades-long career on the WMU campus, eventually retiring from the position of Vice President for Student Services.
Tom and Monique had four sons - Thomas Alex, Daniel, Mark, and Michael. Tom and Monique loved their boys and raised them well. They were delighted with each new daughter-in-law (Phyllis with Tom, Linda with Dan, Sharon with Mark, and Vicki with Mike). Tom and Monique were even more delighted with the arrival of beloved grandchildren: Brian, Lauren, Maia, Peter, Kel, Jack, and Molly, who enriched their lives and brought them great joy. Tom wrote, “Nothing Monique and I have achieved over our lives can outshine our children and grandchildren. They are always in our prayers.” Tom also delighted in his many nieces and nephews, cousins, and relatives near and far, in addition to his many and enduring friendships.
Active all his life at WMU, with track and running, with poker friends, and beyond, Tom and Monique were able to travel the world, and, before he passed, he fulfilled his dreams of returning to France and Ireland to see friends and family, and of driving himself, at age 90, to both coasts to do the same. As a hobby he loved to write children’s stories, especially for the young people he knew.
Tom and Monique celebrated 65 years of married life, and Monique’s passing in 2021 never dulled the love he always felt for her. The family has been lucky beyond belief to have had such parents, and to see their love for each other, their family, and their friends reflected tenfold. Their memory will continue to be a blessing.
Memorial services will be held later in the year. If you wish to honor his memory, we know he would appreciate a donation in his name to the charity of your choice.
Visit BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories or photos, and sign his guestbook. Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900.