Obituary: Thomas Eliason: 1941-2016
Thomas Dale Eliason was born on July 29, 1941 in Klamath Falls, Oregon. He was the youngest of three children born to Arthur and Vivian (Nelson) Eliason. He began elementary school at the Catron Country School and graduated from Gettysburg High School. Tom attended the Brigham Young University in Utah. He married JoAnn Martin in 1963. To this union, eight children were born. The family moved to Gregory in 1977. Tom had a special place in his heart for Gregory. He enjoyed being active in the community and was never hesitant to lend a hand to a neighbor. Tom supported organizations such as Gregory athletics, the commercial club, and 4-H. He also served as a State Farm agent for 39 years.
Tom’s first passion was a good horse. Tom learned most of his horsemanship skill from his father. He always said his dad was the best horseman he ever knew. Through this mentorship, Tom grew into one of the most successful horse trainers in South Dakota history. He judged many prestigious horse shows in the US and Canada, including the Cow Palace and Congress. One of his most memorable accomplishments was winning the AQHA World Championship in 1977. Tom trained and rode Mr. Flintrock to the world title in the Heeling competition and was top 10 in the Working Cow Horse.
Tom had a knack for discovering talented horses. He was especially proud of Wilywood, who he acquired in the late 80s. Tom and three of his children competed on Wilywood and his colts. Their success led to another important phase of his career. Tom was responsible for breeding numerous horses that were outstanding on many levels. He was a mentor to many aspiring horsemen.
Those who knew Tom knew of his strong faith. He was devoted to serving his church and took on many leadership positions. He loved studying, discussing, and teaching scripture with his family and friends.
Tom passed away unexpectedly of a heart attack while doing what he loved, checking cows, Dec. 22, 2016.
Tom loved and was devoted to his family. He is survived by his wife, JoAnn and his eight children: Blaine (Shari) Eliason of Madison, Gregory (Tricia) Eliason of Salt Lake City, UT, Jill (Arturo) Barreto of Gregory, Douglas (Rachel) Eliason of Salt Lake City, UT, Sally (Sid) Atkin of Grantsville, UT, Robert Eliason, of Gregory, Bethany (Kelly Lindwurm) Eliason of Gregory, and Blake (Meghan) Eliason of Stillwater, OK. Tom was blessed with 18 grandchildren: Katie, Sam, and Will Eliason; Jacob Eliason; Isaac, Eli, and Luke Barreto; Jack and Max Eliason; Tess, Gracie, and Mya Atkin; Bridget and Abby Eliason, Karson and Avery Lindwurm; and Maggie Eliason. He is also survived by his brother, Dan (LeAnn) Eliason and his brother-in-law, James Bond and a host of family and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his sister, Cindy (Eliason) Bond, his infant brother, Steven, and his infant grandson, Nathan.
Funeral services for Tom were Wednesday, December 28, 2016, at 10:30 a.m. at Gregory Memorial Auditorium in Gregory, SD with Ed Midgley conducting the service. A visitation was Tuesday evening at Kotrba-Smith Funeral Home.
Annette Wagner and Leann Schrader were in charge of registration.
Tess Atkin and Brody Boes were in charge of flowers.
Music was provided by Chuck Eliason, Curtis Eliason, and Joe Eliason singing “How Great Thou Art” accompanied by Marian Eliason.
The invocation was given by John Fincher.
Tributes to Tom were given by Kathie Bartlett and Gary Heintz.
Tylor Fagerhaug sang “Strawberry Roan.”
The speaker was Tom’s brother Dan Eliason.
Tom’s granddaughter Katie Eliason sang “Amazing Grace.”
The closing prayer was given by Tom’s nephew, Eric Eliason.
Casketbearers were Blaine Eliason, Gregory Eliason, Douglas Eliason, Robert Eliason, Blake Eliason, and Glen Ellis.
Interment was in the I.O.O.F. Cemetery, Gregory, SD.