CEDAR — Thomas Joseph Popa, 80, of Cedar, passed away on Sunday, March 2, 2014, at Munson Medical Center, after a courageous battle with cancer.
Tommy was born Feb. 12, 1934, on the family farm just outside Cedar, the 10th child of Thomas and Catherine (Novak) Popa. On June 15, 1963, at St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church of Gills Pier, he married Ruth Ann Korson, his wife of 50 years.
Tommy completed his high school education at Holy Rosary School and enjoyed playing baseball in the local league.
He explored a bit of Europe while serving as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army.
He returned to Leelanau County to farm the family homestead and also worked full-time as a machinist at Traverse City Iron Works.
He was an active member of Holy Rosary Parish and shared his love of singing as a member of the church choir.
Tommy treasured the land he was born and raised on. He was an avid outdoorsman, enjoying fishing, hunting (particularly bow and rifle) and proudly bagged one last deer this past hunting season. He tended the land as a lifelong farmer, baling hay even through his final years. He was named Leelanau Conservationist of the Year in 2002.
Spending time with his children and grandchildren was important to Tommy. The family gathered for a reunion and the couple’s 50th wedding anniversary this summer. He and Ruthie recently returned from their annual visit to see their daughters and their families in California and Minnesota.
When Tommy wasn’t hunting or fishing his hobbies included tackling projects around the farm, serving as jack of all trades at Bel Lago Vineyards, collecting tractors at area auctions and playing euchre.
Tommy is survived by his wife, Ruthie; his children, Mindy (Steve) Scherr, of San Juan Bautista, Calif., Brenda (Tim) Nicol, of Woodbury, Minn., Alan Popa, of Valencia, Spain, Marcia Popa, of Edina, Minn., and Roger (Bubba) Popa, of Traverse City; eight grandchildren; his siblings, Leonard (Betty) Popa, Alice McNeil, Katherine (Louie) Stachnik and Julie (Joe) McAuliffe; his brothers-in-law, Joe Brzezinski and Don Herman; and many loving nieces, nephews and cousins.