Thomas Eugene “Tom” Ciambella was born February 4, 1953 in Henryetta, Ok to Telemeco E. “Tom” Ciambella, Jr. and Margorie C. (nee Berkey) Ciambella. At the age of six, he moved to Illinois with his parents and two sisters, Kathy and Georganna. He passed away on May 10, 2021 in Decatur, IL at the age of 68.
He attended MTZ Public Schools, where he excelled in sports, especially football, wrestling, and track and field events. He also qualified at the state level in art and vocal music. Tom earned an athletic scholarship to Southern Illinois University, Carbondale for his high and low hurdle skills. While there he was introduced to spelunking, an interest that he explored for a number of years.
Tom attended MTZ Presbyterian Church throughout his childhood and would later bring up his two daughters in the same congregation.
A lifelong involvement with politics began during high school when Tom was a delegate to Boys State.
Photography became an abiding love from childhood due to the influence of Tom’s uncle, Bill Berkey.
While employed by Norfolk Southern Railroad, Tom’s photography shoots included numerous company train photos which subsequently appeared on Norfolk and Western calendars.
His love of woodworking led him to establish Black Dog Calls, so named because of his appreciation of Labrador retrievers.
Tom shared a family love of growing flowers, orchids, being his specialty.
Tom was involved with the MTZ Lion’s Club, Gallery 510, Oklahoma Predator Hunters Association, Ducks Unlimited and served on the MTZ Library Board.
Tom was an avid pool player, playing in a Decatur league that qualified for Las Vegas competition. He loved horses, sports cars, but especially loved Harley Davidson motorcycles.
He was a prankster as many friends and family can attest, but most of all, he was a loving father, son, and brother.
Tom was preceded in death by his parents, T.E. and Marge Ciambella.
His survivors include his deeply beloved daughters: Katelin A. “Kate” Ciambella, Emily J. Ciambella; the love of his life Beth Bretzel; his sisters: Katherine L. Brison (Jim) and Georganna M. “Jan” Barnard; nieces Jill Brison Whitelock (Steven), Beth Howk (John), Christine Barnard; nephew Tyrone Barnard, great-niece Avery Howk, and numerous cousins.
Arrangements were conducted by Dawson and Wikoff Funeral Home, Mt. Zion. Private family interment of ashes will be at Mt. Zion Township Cemetery.
As a celebration of his life, a public event is being planned for later this year.