On Thursday, January 16, 2020, our beloved, occasionally cantankerous, and usually hilariously funny son and brother, Thomas Lyle Ortman, Jr. (known as T.O. or Tommy), decided he’d had enough of his corporeal pain and ended it. He will be immortalized in our memories and our stories and some of us believe his spirit will live on while others think, nah, this was it. In any case, we loved him dearly.
He was kind of a Renaissance man - self educated, immensely well-read, an aficionado of war history - and an expert welder, a craftsman in his trade, able to fix anything. In his younger days, he liked fast cars, motorcycles, and drinking, and we were probably lucky we had him as long as we did. He wrecked a few cars and shot his bowling ball at least once. A lifelong Ashland resident, he had many friends, who, now in their later years, would meet up for lunch at the senior center, which Tommy always referred to as “going to lunch at Lazy Acres.” Sadly, injuries sustained mainly as a young man - including a logging related injury- led to chronic pain, which was something he dealt with for his entire adulthood.
He was born on June 21, 1949. He was a graduate of Ashland High School and attended technical school in Ashland where he earned degrees in Welding and Machine Tool. He worked for a time at Barko Hydraulics in Superior and later ran his own welding shop for many years where he primarily made tanks for Hood Loaders in Iron River. People actually marveled at the beauty of his welding and his beads. True story. He taught his brother Charles how to weld, and they spent countless hours together in the shop. He enjoyed cooking and had regular Sunday dinners at the house which he often referred to as “feeding the bears,” namely his brother Charles and his nephews, Andrew and Dylan.
He was preceded in death by his father, Thomas Lyle Ortman, Sr. He is survived by his mother, Patricia J. Ortman; sister Patricia E. Ortman (James Scott); sister Carol J. Ortman (John Snider); brother Charles R. Ortman (Corrin Lamerand); and sister Kaye Ortman Peters (Terry Peters); much loved and teased nephews, Michael Ortman (Kristin Kindle); Andrew Ortman (Rebecca Butterworth); Dylan Ortman (Josie Jaeger), Thomas Peters, and Taylor Peters; beloved nieces Charley Lauren Shanahan (Will); and Sarah Elizabeth Snider (Quinn Bune); great-nephews Liam, Kian, and A.J; great-nieces Abigail, Hannah, and Vicki, and many other relatives and friends, including Chico, Frog, Pucky, Dinky, Lance, Paul, and Robin (you know who you are). Finally, he leaves behind his faithful dog, Jack, who has been taken in by his brother, Charles.
He will be cremated and we will be having a celebration of his life in the summer. If you are interested in sending memorials, the Ashland Animal Shelter is a good choice because he loved his dog. Much to our sadness but not surprise, he has continued his tradition of leaving without saying goodbye while we all looked around asking, “Where did Tommy go?” However, at his house, when we’d leave, he had his classics, including, “See you in the spring, if I make it through the mattress,” and “Come back when you can’t stay so long.” Rest in peace, bro. You are missed.