Robert Charles (Tom) Leverich was born on December 17, 1924, to Ada (Birr) Leverich and James Earl Leverich in Sparta, Wisconsin. He attended Angelo State Graded School and Sparta High School. In 1943, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps. When World War II ended, Tom attended UW-Madison to earn degrees in Dairy Science and Ag Economics. While at the UW, he met the love of his life, Claire Blackburn. They married in 1950 and raised four children on the family farm in Angelo, Wisconsin. It is a sesquicentennial farm which his Onondaga Co., NY ancestors settled in 1864.
Tom operated the farm while employed first as an instructor in the Veterans’ On-the-Farm Training Program for 7 years and then as Chief of R/W and Land Acquisition with the Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation. He and his staff negotiated and purchased all the land for the Interstate highways in 10 Western Wisconsin counties as well as land for county and state road projects. Tom was the driving force in acquiring scenic easements along the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers. His determination and work have kept the bluff sides free of signs and unsightly buildings. He persuaded the state to build the beautiful Scenic Outlook at Genoa. Next time you drive the beautiful Mississippi River corridor, tip your hat in thanks to Tom.
Tom was a steward of the land, implementing conservation practices in the ‘50s and no-till farming in the ‘80s. He loved farm machinery, and designed and built machines to farm more efficiently. He was also a builder who built his house, farm buildings and later a cabin from trees he had planted on the farm.
The Wisconsin DOT appointed Tom as a technical advisor to the Mississippi River Parkway Commission; he and Claire spent many happy times traveling to meetings up and down the river from Canada to New Orleans. Because of his love of the river, Tom founded and was Chief Rat of the Mississippi River Rats, an organization with hundreds of members dedicated to “clean lands, clean water, and clean fun on the river”.
In his home township of Angelo, Tom served as Town Board Chairman faithfully for 42 years. He was also elected as a Director of the Wisconsin Towns Assn. for 5 years. During his lifetime, he was a loyal member of the UCC Congregational Church, member and commander of the O.L. Arnold/D.K. Slayton American Legion Post 100, Angelo School Board, Head Start Program of Western Wisconsin, Sparta Jaycees, Sparta Kiwanis, Sparta Exhausted Roosters, Charter member of Monroe County Holstein Breeders Assn, board member of Western Wisconsin Savings and Loan, and in late years, a member of Mac’s Coffee Club.
Tom made time to help each of his children follow their interests from horseback riding to FFA to forensics and other school activities. He was dedicated to seeing that each could have the college education of his/her choice.
Tom’s life was full, dedicated to the land, and to a firm belief that America will remain strong as long as its citizens are willing to serve in local government and uphold its laws. And, to always, always protect your good name.
Tom is survived by his wife Claire; four children – Judith (Arlin) Brannstrom, Madison; Robert Leverich, Olympia, WA; Julie (Paul) Larson, Mindoro; James (Marla) Leverich, Sparta; 11 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. He is further survived by a brother James Leverich, Pampa, TX and a sister, Mary Hicken, West Bend, WI.
Funeral services will be held at 1 pm on Saturday, April 7 at Sparta UCC-Congregational Church with Pastors William Clyma and Tiff Bates officiating. Visitation from 11am – 1pm. Following the service, burial with military honors at Woodlawn Cemetery. Online condolences may be offered to the Leverich family at www.schanhoferfh.com. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to UCC-Congregational Church, American Legion Baseball Team or Sparta Lions Club Camps for the Blind.
The Lanham-Schanhofer Funeral Home, Sparta, is assisting the family with funeral arrangements.