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Thomas R. Labney

January 11, 1921 ~ August 16, 2020 (age 99)


Thomas Raymond Labney, 99, died in the early morning of Sunday, August 16, 2020 at Autumn Fields Adult Community, Savoy.

He was born January 11, 1921 in Chicago, Illinois, the only child of Frank and Anna (Kreft) Labney. As a boy, living just one block from Midway Airport, young Tom sold newspapers to passenger traffic at the airport terminal and made friends with pilots who flew the mail run between St. Louis and Chicago. Unknown to his parents, he would hop a ride to St. Louis now and then and return home before his parents knew anything of his adventure.

Tom turned 21 in January 1942, a month after Pearl Harbor. He enlisted in the Navy and reported to Great Lakes, IL for basic training. After a shortened training (three weeks instead of six due to huge numbers of new recruits) Tom was sent to California. He had several assignments in and around San Francisco, tending and mending submarine nets. He was then transferred to the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, for 18 months. While home on leave in July 1944, Tom married his finance Eleanor Kampenga. Tom was then assigned to a newly built ship, the USS Guam, and was part of the shakedown crew. The ship then sailed through the Panama Canal to join the Battle of the Pacific. Tom returned home and to his former employer in October 1945. For 37 years Tom was a journeyman sheet metal worker in Illinois and Indiana.

After living 70 years in the Midwest, Tom and Eleanor moved to North Carolina and then back to Illinois to be closer to family. Tom’s favorite hobbies were gardening and candle-making. He always shared his candles with neighbors and family.

His wife Eleanor died in 2012. He is survived by their three children – Donna Meagher (Robert, dec.) (Champaign, IL), Tom Jr. (Joyce) (Valparaiso, IN), and Phillip (Paula) (Conyers. GA). There are three grandchildren – Andrea Grainger (Zurich), Sarah Minor (Dan) (Gig Harbor, WA), and Robert Meagher (Jamie) (Savoy) and three great-grandchildren – Kate, Alexander, and Gavin.


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