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Long-Time Trevor Fire Chief Passes

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Thomas Gary Seep
(December 7, 1948 – June 1, 2024)

Thomas Gary Seep, 74 years old of Trevor, WI passed away Saturday, June 1, 2024. He was born December 7, 1949 in Chicago, IL the son of the late Robert H. and Beth E. (Stratton) Seep. On January 31, 1970, Thomas married Linda Dunn in Des Plaines, IL. 

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Tom proudly served his country in the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. He was an active part of the Trevor community, serving on the school board, supporting the local Boy Scouts Troop and leading the Trevor Volunteer Fire Department as Chief for 34 years. In 2012, Tom was voted the Kenosha County Person of the Year. 

Tom had an infectious personality with a laugh that filled the room. You could often hear Tom coming before you could see him. When he returned from Vietnam, he found Trevor and made it his home. He was truly committed to the community, getting involved in every way that he could. His involvement in the fire department and school were just small ways that he showed love for his new home. You could rarely have a short conversation with Tom as he would talk for hours about you, your family, and what you had been up to. His love for the Trevor community was second only to the love he felt for his family. His family vacations and camping trips were looked forward to by all. His Christmas time practical jokes were legendary.

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Tom is survived by his wife of over 54 years, Linda; their children, Christopher (Elaina) Seep and Colleen (John) Milburn; grandchildren, Cade and Phoebe Seep, Zachary and Brittany Milburn; his siblings, Dale Ann (Gary) Potter, Terry (Robyn) Seep; sister-in- law, Tammy (Gary) Lawson and many other extended family, nieces, nephews, friends, Trevor community members and Fire Department colleagues. Tom was preceded in death by his parents; grandparents, Frank (Helen) Seep; brother, Timothy Seep; sister-in-law, Donna Seep; mother-in-law, Grace Marie Dunn, and sister-in-law, Barbara Voss. 

Memorial Visitation will be held from 1:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. with a Memorial Service with Military and Fire Department Honors to commence at 3:00 p.m. Saturday, June 15, 2024 at Strang Funeral Home, 1055 Main St., Antioch, IL 60002. Interment will be private. For additional information, call 847-395-4000. In lieu of flowers, donations are appreciated to The Sharing Center, 25700 Wilmot Rd., Trevor, WI 53179 or the Trevor Volunteer Fire Department Association, P.O. Box 166, Trevor, WI 53179. Please sign the online guestbook for Thomas at www.strangfh.com

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Reaction From Local Leaders

Salem Lakes Fire Chief Al Carr
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Salem Lakes Fire Chief Al Carr had the following to say of Seep’s passing:

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“Chief Seep had a significant impact on the  Salem Lakes Fire Rescue family, first as the long serving Chief of the Trevor Volunteer Fire Department,  then as an Officer with the then, newly formed Salem Lakes Department. He was a genuine leader and a mentor to many. He cared deeply for people. He was a man of values, commitment, and community. We honor him as we try to live up to his example.”

Rita Bucur – President, Village of Salem Lakes
(Campaign Photo)

Salem Lakes Village President had the following to say of Seep’s passing:

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“We are deeply saddened to hear of Tom Seep’s passing. He dedicated many years of service to our community and left an indelible mark on those who knew him and worked with him. Tom touched the lives of many and left a lasting legacy of leadership and compassion. Our thoughts and heartfelt condolences are with Tom’s family and loved ones during this difficult time. He will be remembered with great respect and gratitude.”

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11 Responses

  1. If you had the pleasure to meet Tom, you undoubtedly are better for it.
    He not only was willing to do things for you but wasn’t shy asking you to help him do things for others.

    I had the pleasure of interacting with him when he was on the town Highway department. A great leader in his role there. Also in his support of the local scouting program.

    And years later he recruited me to assist in a volunteer effort because he knew I could do it.

    Even though my interactions with him were few compared to many others, he immediately considered me a friend and always said hi.

    The last time I ran into him just a few months ago he was still thinking of others in his capacity as part of the Trevor Volunteer Fire Department Association. Always thinking of others.

    Thank you Tom ! It was great to know you !

  2. 2024

    We were standing at the edge of a driveway and the street, activity and truck and equipment noises all around us. I asked him about a fire issue and he said, as he reached to re-settle his sunglasses on his face, “I cant talk to you about that right now, I am at work with the Highway Department, not the Fire Department”. And of course, at that moment he was working with the Highway Department team, loading up one of the largest oak tree root balls onto what then seemed to be a very small dump truck! We were watching the final act of clearing the street of an oak tree that had been pushed over by the wind and which blocked the street (along with several others), taking down power at the same time. Tom and the crew were doing their jobs and working around the Wisconsin Electric crews with their trucks, poles, wires. And then he asked, “Where are you all from?” “Illinois”. I said, to which there was one of those ‘Oh Man eye rolls’ and “Oh.” Funny, very funny, coming from a flatlander himself but pretending that he was always from Wisconsin!

    We are here at KCE reading and remembering the things that Tom did for us and what we saw him do for others for many years without a lot of fanfare. He was “One” for the benefit of ALL the OTHERS! We are here remembering our own interactions – how he pushed us to do better, how he taught us to listen and watch and learn. To wait and lead only when you knew that you were ready to be the leader – when you had the qualifications and experience to lead, to lead by example if not leading for the charge!

    Countless fundraisers, countless meetings and education programs – learning and teaching. Countless fires, big and small and the double checks that had to be made. Countless middle of the night calls. Countless family events interrupted. Countless questions by the citizens. Countless questions by businesses and clubs and schools and organizations. Countless general advice stops. Countless. And always, even keel, thoughtful answers, nothing ever in jest or sarcasm. Always thoughtful answers.

    Even reprimands were thoughtful.

    A sighting of a red and white pickup truck with a grass hose costume hung on the back end was our locator system for Tom Seep. And never, not ever going over the speed limit! Not ever. Watching. Looking. Assessing. Did someone need help? Should attention be given by Highway? By Fire? Slow enough that people could see that he was in the ‘hood and they could get out to the street by the time he drove by to talk, ask a question or ask for help. A trip through the neighborhoods after storms looking for problems for the highway department, for sewer utility or on Monday morning after a great weekend – Watching. Looking.

    And in the summer, requests for WATER! which then, surprisingly, turned into a training exercise. And let’s not forget some of the BIRTHDAY rides.

    And there was Tom giving support and attention – even with his own kids out of the school – to the programs at Trevor School for Fire Education Days, for Scouts and for the School’s programs for every seasonal event. even to arrang to pull cars and trucks out of a saft parking lot!

    That red and white truck would be the most welcome sight at one’s hour of desperate need! And, he was the person we spoke with when we arrived on the scene where our loved ones were lost from us forever. Tom, in his truck, was a most welcomed sight. He was a most welcomed sight, followed quickly by the men and women he advocated for regarding Medical Assistance and for which they have trained, many at his suggestion and nudging. For many, that training leading to a livelihood.

    There are brothers and sisters and maybe some parents who know Tom because of a sad and devastating event where saving a life just was not going to happen. He became their tether to their loved one – forever. And for Tom, it was a constant reminder of why he gave himself to the effort to do good – their appreciation.

    We will remember a fire truck slowly rolling thru the neighborhood making deliveries between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and the preparation for those trips many days before. People reading here remember all of these things. Many who passed already from us would remember the fundraising by the auxiliary and the water fights all for the benefit of building comradery and funds for a Trevor Volunteer Fire Department. They would remember the early trucks being purchased and showcased at meetings and community events, of the moves from one to another of the firehouses, of yet an arrival of another piece of equipment or apparatus, of the greeting by the other hamlet associations with each new addition. And of course, the education about every possible use of that piece of equipment by all in the group.

    Without a doubt, we know that Tom was a promoter. Promoting the Cadet Program (of which many reading here participated and grew themselves to professionalism) or the Sharing Center in any of its locations – even outside of Trevor.

    We know that Tom Seep was, often enough, in the very funeral place honoring a friend, resident or a fellow fire fighter or arranging the last call for someone that he loved and respected, taught and nurtured. I am certain that perfect uniforms, perfect shoes and constant professional decorum, once mentioned at the beginning of the honor day, would not have to be mentioned again. The team knew the equipment was to be perfect, that honors given for certain important tasks would be accepted as the honors that they were intended. As I write this, I know that the honor for these tasks will never be forgotten by the participants, nor by the family members.

    The growth of the funeral processions of our Fire and EMS members has been with the help of our Sheriff and Mabas Participants. All of these people are part of the BODY that kicks in when the swtich is turned on. The MANY turn into One unit, ONE mission, ONE goal in a single instant. When the task is over, the switch gets turned off and the door to common life opens and each in their own time leaves for their real life. I think that all of this has been part of the Tom Seep educational and “DO AS I DO” program.

    Nothing could be more professional than the creed to not talk about the events surrounding the worst day in the lives of the citizens. Do everything possible to help, protect, save, or just being near but never, ever talk about the priviledge of having been there with them at the last.

    When that time came for the associations to merge, it was people like Tom who brought a calm and visionary voice to the table of fellow members and made the three associations the strongest in the whole of Western Kenosha County.

    I believe that Tom is the last of the old school Fighters. I cant think of any now who are still with us. But if they are amongst us still, we thank you as we thank Tom for being truly dedicated to helping others WHERE WE LIVE and WHY WE LIVE HERE.

    Thanks Tom Seep

    “A little good here.
    A little good there.
    It all adds up to something big in the end!
    Thanks for what you taught us.
    Thanks for protecting us.
    Thanks for being here among us as a friend.
    Thanks for making such a positive mark on our kids.
    Thanks for being there for our elders.
    Thanks for all you have done Tom Seep.”

  3. Tom once told me that after his time in Vietnam he came to Trevor because he found it welcoming.

    He was looking for someplace that wasn’t against returning Vets. And then he made us better !

    Truly one of a kind. He touched hundreds if not thousands of people in his multiple roles in this community.

    I wish I could say more but the comment above says just about all anyone can say.

    God Speed Tom

  4. Behind every Great Man is a Great Woman !

    While I’ve never been at their table or talked with Linda to any extent, it goes without saying that for everything Tom did and was, Linda was there either at his side or at home waiting for him to return.

    Hats off to you Linda !! Thank you for supporting Tom in everything he did and was for our community !!

  5. It sure would have been much more meaningful if you interviewed people who really knew Tom an not those who have no clue what kind of person he was and never worked with him, like Chief Slover, Mike Murdock, anyone on the hwy dept or who was on Trevor Fire when he was.

    1. And any of those you mention can make an unedited comment here and sign their names. And u should remember too that it might have even a hard thing to be interviewed or to make a comment by those who lost a ‘father’s or ‘best friend’s. If u were a friend, share a story. Now is the time.

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