Thomas O McLaughlin Sr

Thomas Owen McLaughlin passed away December 11, 2018. He was born in General Hospital, Bowling Green, on February 8, 1935.  His parents were William L. McLaughlin of Bowling Green and Emma (Carr) of Toledo. He attended schools in both Bowling Green and Toledo and graduated from Toledo Central Catholic in 1953. Tom received a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame in 1957.

He was on active duty with the Army at Picatinny Arsenal NJ from 1958 to 1962 and remained in the same department as a civilian employee retiring in 1991. He ultimately became chief of the organization responsible for the maintenance support and logistics of the entire Army nuclear weapon stockpile. Early in Tom’s career, President Kennedy issued a directive to implement a system to preclude the inadvertent or unauthorized use of a nuclear weapon. This was one of Tom’s most challenging projects; not only in initial implementation, but also in the successful maintenance of the system. Tom retired after the end of the cold war and he felt that his participation in this country’s readiness in some way helped prevent a nuclear conflict. It was only later that he realized that he had had the hardest job imaginable and survived it.

Tom was a recognized craftsman in the art of miniatures for over 40 years. He constructed houses, cottages, room boxes, and furniture in exquisite one/twelfth detail. He also made many pieces in metal such as tiny steam engines and brass cannons.

Tom elected to spend his retirement in community service rather than taking another job. A year after returning to Bowling Green, he entered the first Black Swamp Arts Festival and won 2nd prize. For the next few years he demonstrated making miniatures and then was, for many years, the chair of visual arts for the festival. He was active in Arts Allied, co-founder of Arts in Common, president of the Medici Circle at the BGSU School of Art, and co-founder of Art Walk. His most significant work, an Arts and Crafts style miniature room, was selected for exhibition at the Toledo Area Artists Show at the Toledo Museum of Art.  Another of his more popular fully working miniatures, the Bowling Green Carousel, has delighted children and adults for many years, and is on permanent loan to the Wood County Historical Center and Museum.

Growing up one block away from four corners in the 1940’s, Tom loved downtown Bowling Green as a youngster. Coming back to town some 50 years later, he was amazed at how little had changed. He became a downtown volunteer, working on almost everything including the car show, artwalk, and the farmers market. He gave downtown walking tours to various groups and schoolchildren.Tom had a fond interest in the Cla-Zel theater, partly because his father worked there the day it opened in 1926, and he endeavored with others to try and save it as a movie house.

Another of his most favorite activities was walking. Always outdoors and always varied, he covered 3 to 8 miles a day; rarely missing a day in all weather.

Tom married Kathleen Kastner in her hometown of South Bend, IN on May 28, 1960. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2010 with family at the Toledo Zoo; a favorite place for the whole family. Kathleen passed away in 2014. His eldest son Tom Jr passed away in 2016.

The McLaughlin family were originally from Craig Monaghan, County Tyrone. Tom had a great interest in Irish culture and practised the Irish language for many years. In 2017, he moved to the town of Clifden in County Galway and spent the rest of his days there enjoying the splendor of Ireland.

He is survived by four children: William (Elizabeth DeLong) of Conifer CO, Maureen Parent (Mike) of Richmond VT, Colleen McLaughlin (Jeff Litton) of Albany NY and Pegeen Lorusso (Dan) of Averill Park NY, and daughter-in-law Penny Parker of Bowling Green. Eight grandchildren: Samantha Parent, Sean McLaughlin, Sara Litton, Jenna Litton, Phoebe Lorusso, Sophie Lorusso, Bryn Parker, and Lily Parker McLaughlin. He leaves his sister Barbara McLaughlin Kelly (Mike), niece Laura Koons and little Emma.

A Celebration of Tom’s Life is planned for December 29 at Grounds for Thought in Bowling Green at 6:30pm.  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Tom’s name to the Black Swamp Arts Festival or the Wood County Historical Center and Museum. Arrangements have been entrusted with Deck-Hanneman Funeral Home & Crematory; share a fond memory or condolence by visiting