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Thomas Fleming DeGalan
October 10, 1945 - August 25, 2020

Thomas Fleming DeGalan

Thomas Fleming DeGalan
Oct 10, 1945 - Aug 25, 2020

Thomas Fleming DeGalan

Thomas F. DeGalan Jr.,a lifelong Detroit resident, passed away Tuesday, Aug. 25 at Ascension St. John Detroit from complications following a stroke. He was 74.

Tom was born Oct. 10, 1945 in Detroit to the late Thomas DeGalan Sr. and the late Lorna (Dame) DeGalan.
A 1964 graduate of St. Mary's of Redford High School, Tom went on to earn both a bachelor's and master's degree in education from Wayne State University.

He took a year off from college to work for General Motors as a steward on its private plane fleet, flying corporate executives, including the late John DeLorean, around the country. One of his favorite memories of that time was how "Big John," who was usually late for the flight, would drive his Corvette onto the tarmac, park it right next to the waiting plane, and hand Tom the keys with directions for him to take it to the parking area.

Following his graduation from Wayne State, Tom joined the Detroit Police Department. He retired in 1998 after 26 years that saw a career that began with undercover work in the narcotics unit, a stint as the driver for then-police chief William Hart, and several years in the Homicide Section under the late Gil Hill. He closed out his career as head of the department's K 9 division, but not before he brought home Shelby, a German Shepard that couldn't quite make the cut as a police dog, but would have qualified as a repeat offender.

He earned several department commendations, including one for action taken while off duty. One morning while walking from his home on Detroit's east side to E. Warren to catch a bus to take him to headquarters downtown, he heard suspicious sounds coming from a nearby garage. He made the decision to investigate and interrupted an attack on a young girl who had been abducted while walking to school.

Following his retirement from the Detroit Police, Tom dusted off his education degrees and returned to the classroom as a substitute teacher with local private schools and the Grosse Pointe Public School System. A chance encounter with a family friend led him to apply to Madonna University, where he taught criminal justice for 15 years before retiring for a second time in 2015.

It was another chance encounter that would have the greatest impact on his life. While a graduate student at Wayne, he stopped by the financial office to make a tuition payment and struck up a conversation with the cashier, Wilhelmina Melville, who had a degree in art from Wayne State. The tough Detroit cop and the free-spirited artist were a perfect example of opposites attracting and living happily ever after for 43 years, only ending with Will's death in 2018. Their daughter, Clara, followed her mother's footsteps as an artist and her father's footsteps as a teacher, blending both as an art teacher at Madonna University.

In addition to Clara and her partner, Sam Copi, Tom is survived by his sisters, Kathy Ryan, Lorna Slenkai (Laszlo), Mary Edwards (Robert), nephews Michael Ryan, Kevin and Mark Gostomski, nieces Maureen Ryan Canadilla and Kate Ryan Johnson, several great nieces and nephews, and close friend Liz Rogennbuck He was pre-deceased by a brother, John Michael, brother-in-law, John Ryan and nephew, Patrick Ryan. He also leaves his much loved four-legged companion, Maurice, the last in a long line of dogs that deigned to allow Tom to sit on their couch.

Due to COVID restrictions, there will be no public gathering, but the family has requested that friends raise a glass of their favorite spirits in his honor and make a donation in his name to.the Michigan Humane Society or Madonna University.

Burial will take place in Millersberg, MI, where Tom will be reunited with Will near their cottage on Rainy Lake.

Barb Bergers on Sep 6, 2020

I just learned of Tom's death. Clara, I am so sorry for your loss. Tom and I worked together at the 5th Precinct. He was sent there after many years at Homicide. It was someone's brilliant idea to transfer longtime bureau supervisors to precincts, with no training regarding being a street supervisor. Tom arrived, without the bitterness I saw in others, eager to learn. I loved working with him and he was a great supervisor. Each year after I left DPD, I would get a phone call from Tom on Dec 3, my birthday as well as Wills. That man could make me laugh!

Mary Edwards on Sep 5, 2020

Julie Byrne on Sep 4, 2020

Dear Lorna, Laszlo and family, so very sorry for the loss of your brother. What a full life he lived. Try to hold onto the great memories you have of him. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
Julie Byrne

Mark Shemanski on Sep 4, 2020

Tom & I were classmates at St. Monica’s. We used to go trick or treating together. He always seemed to have that wit about him. As a policeman, I used to see him at Mt. Carmel Hospital ED, where I worked midnights. As stressful as it could be for him on the job, he’d have time to always say hello, and always kept his cool.

Mary Hanna on Sep 2, 2020

Mr Tom was nice to me all the time I cleamed his office and rember he asking me about some bag s for his chicken s he had to beard at Madonna Univ

Mary Edwards on Sep 1, 2020

Tom Schlarman on Sep 1, 2020


Tom was a good guy. Too good of a guy to be a cop, I once thought. I enjoyed working with Tom and always admired his professionalism. At our first meeting, and the ones following, Tom made you feel like you were his best friend. You will be missed Tom. Godspeed.

Tom Schlarman DPD ret. on Aug 31, 2020

Tom was a good guy. Too good of a guy to be a cop, I once thought. I enjoyed working with Tom and always admired his professionalism. At our first meeting, and the ones following, Tom made you feel like you were his best friend. You will be missed Tom. Godspeed.

Margie Checkoway on Aug 31, 2020

I am saddened by the news of Tom's passing. What a a very kind and supportive colleague he was during our years together at Madonna University! I had the pleasure of getting to know him better while we both served on the Faculty Affairs Committee. He was so affirming and kind and communicated through words and demeanor an extra sparkle of energy. Tom was a true gentleman: polite, professional, good listener, and caring, and he was a dedicated teacher.
May happy memories of him and his legacy offer some comfort, Clara, during this time of mourning, and may memories of him be for a blessing.

Andrew Domzalski on Aug 31, 2020

I am very sorry to hear about Tom's passing away. I recall with pleasure many a time Tom and I chatted whenever we would see each other in a hall. His comments were always kind and wise. His friendly smile would lift others up. Clara, my deepest condolences to you and your family in this difficult time.

Barbara Wiltsie on Aug 31, 2020

It saddened me to have heard of Tom's stroke, and now I am even more saddened by his passing. Tom always emitted joy and friendliness whenever I crossed his path at Madonna Univ. We didn't know each well at all, but our greetings to each other left me thinking we did. I feel if we had the opportunity to work with each other on committees or other university events, I would have found a lovely, fun-filled, and spirited friend. My thoughts and prayers go to you, Clara. May you heal quickly, knowing your constant, and I am sure tireless devotion to his care was not in vain. It takes a loving person, like yourself to help a parent know they are deeply loved as they make the transition from this life to the next.

Asaad Istephan on Aug 31, 2020

CandleSo sorry to hear of the passing of our colleague Thomas , he was always friendly , cheerful and very very helpful. We pray to the Lord to rest his soul in peace among all the departed saints.
I wish to convey my sincere condolences to his family and ask the Lord to grant them patience at this very difficult time.
Asaad Istephan

Deborah Dunn on Aug 31, 2020

Sending virtual hugs and condolences to the family – on the loss of our dear colleague. Tom was a treasure in my book, I didn’t teach with him but came to know him over the years and worked with him as a member of the Faculty Affairs Committee. Today, I celebrate his life of service to Madonna University, the Criminal Justice program and the police profession. Lifting his spirit up to the Lord!

Sue Sweeney on Aug 31, 2020

I always enjoyed running into Tom in the halls of Madonna or in the College of Social Sciences adjunct office. I counted on his sunny disposition and kindness were to life my spirits. He clearly was devoted to his family, his students, and his field. His passing is a loss to us all. May you find comfort in the memories of his love and of his life well lived. Sue Sweeney

Mary Urisko on Aug 30, 2020

Clara and Tom's family, I am so sorry for your loss. Tom was one of a kind. He always had a twinkle in his eye and a funny story to tell. I work at Madonna University and I often ate dinner before night classes with your Dad and others in our Adjunct Office and he always had us laughing. And his students loved him. I am certain that he is happy to be reunited with his wife, and your mom, Will. I will be sure to raise a glass in his memory. Hugs to you, Clara.

Linette Popoff-Parks on Aug 30, 2020

Tom’s grace, honor, and respect for his colleagues and students at Madonna made him shine like a beacon of hope and good humor. He brought a special gift to us as a devoted husband, and a loving father. Clara continues the DeGalan legacy now. Her devotion to Tom is also a model of gratitude for the love they shared.
I truly respected and loved Tom, missed him when he chose to retire, was broken hearted to hear of his stroke, and now filled with hope as he passes to the newness of divine life.
Bob and I send our thoughts of solace, love, and peace to Clara.

Robert Whitty on Aug 30, 2020

I was reading my Sunday paper and came across Tom's obituary. As I get older it is a sad ritual to see if people I've loved and respected have passed on. Tom was certainly both. I had the pleasure of being Tom and Wilhelmina's neighbor growing up. What gracious, gregarious and fun loving people they were. We had ourselves a ball on Audubon. As time went on and we moved out of the neighborhood they continued to be good friends in particular to my Mother. For that I'm eternally grateful. I'd also on occasion run into Tom at one of our favorite watering holes. It was always great to see him and enjoy his boundless good humor and share a story about the old days. I'm sad that we lost a truly good person but take solace that Tom led a life well lived. My sympathies are with his family and in particular his daughter Clara. In the end I know she'll be comforted in remembering she enjoyed the most precious gift in the world. Wonderful parents who loved her with all their hearts.

Barry Sherman on Aug 30, 2020

I had the pleasure and honor of working with Tom in the Criminal Justice Department at Madonna University during our careers there after our retirements from our respective police agencies.
Tom and I had adjoining offices and had good times talking about any and all issues from politics to sports. Tom was well respected and liked by his students as well as his colleagues at Madonna University. We stayed in contact by phone over the years and enjoyed catching up on our life after retirement. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.
Rest in Peace my friend!

Julia Weber on Aug 29, 2020

Tommy was always Mary's wise-cracking big brother! Although I didn't see him much through our adult years, I always knew about his whereabout's and doing's from my close childhood friend, Mary. So last April, I was thrilled to see him once again at Kevin and Steph's wedding and to meet his amazing daughter Clara. It is a memory I will always cherish. Those two pictures you posted here on this website, Mary, are just priceless. Our deepest sympathy to all of you on the loss of such a great man! May God be with you all in the tough times ahead.

With love and prayers,
Julia and Greg Weber

Felecia Clark on Aug 29, 2020

Losing a parent is one of the most difficult experiences in life, and we are so prayerful for you Clara. Your parents adored you and spoke highly of you and I'm sure you speak highly of them. As a neighbor, it hurts to learn of Tom's passing. We'll definitely miss the greetings, occasional laughs, social and political conversations and of course witty humor of Tom. Each time he went for a walk with his fur buddy, road a bike or just stepped out on the porch, was reassuring. Even as the pandemic progressed, he would share a few updates on his finds! We are truly sorry for your loss, and we're praying for you and the family. Please keep in touch and let us know if you need anything.
Peace and Love, Felecia Clark

Mary Edwards on Aug 28, 2020

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