Tom Tenney, age 88 of Wabasha, passed away peacefully at his Lawrence Blvd. E. home on Sunday, July 8, 2018. Tom was born in Rockford, Illinois November 25, 1929, the second son of Dr. R.E. & Gertrude (Gleichman) Tenney. Tom’s father was born in Wabasha in 1892, one of nine children to Jacob and Katherine Tenney. Tom’s grandfather, Jacob, was a local businessman and a Wabasha County commissioner. Tom graduated from Rockford West High School in 1947, president of his class of 425 students. He then attended Dartmouth College and graduated from Stetson University with a BS degree in biology. He then served his country in the U. S. Army from 1952-1954. He later received a Masters degree in microbiology from the University of Buffalo in Buffalo, NY and then attended one year of medical school in Buffalo.
Tom spent his life as a salesman and excelled in that field. From pharmaceutical sales at Upjohn, to the Encyclopedia Britannica Great Books Program where he was the top salesman in the U. S. for multiple years and still holder of the largest single sale of those books in the history of Britannica, to product manager at Sherwood Medical where he helped develop the Monoject Syringe, Tom was the personification of a salesman made, not born.
He married Linda Baumgartner September 30, 1984 in Carson City, NV. They then moved to Wabasha. Tom was very active in the city of Wabasha. He served as a councilman in the 1st ward for 13 years, and as a member of the Historical Preservation Commission and ad hoc committees where his goal was always to make Wabasha the best place to live in Minnesota if not the entire United States. In the early 1990’s Tom discovered there were no Wabasha city limit/population signs so he worked with the State of Minnesota to get three of those signs put in place. It was Tom’s perseverance that gave Wabasha the designation as the oldest city in Minnesota. He also was responsible for the Mississippi River sign installed at the bottom of the interstate bridge to Wisconsin and he worked diligently with Minnesota and Wisconsin to establish the no wake zone on the river. It is not readily acknowledged but Tom, Dave Fisk and Mary Rivers saw the vision for the National Eagle Center long before it became reality. Without that vision and their efforts in obtaining funding from the State of Minnesota to keep the dream alive, the facility we have today would not be.
Tom is survived by his wife, Linda of Wabasha, his twin sons and daughters-in-law, Shane and Lorrie Tenney and Steve and Leslie Tenney, and daughter and son-in-law, Nancy and Michael Zekor; grandsons, Jeremy Tenney and Joshua Graham; one great-granddaughter, Emily Lou Graham; sister-in-law, Nancy Picken; nieces, nephews and cousins. He was preceded in death by his father, R.E., in 1985, his mother, Gertrude, in 1989, and his brother, Roger, in 1980.
A time of remembrance and sharing of memories will be held at Abbott Funeral Home & Crematory in Wabasha on Thursday, July 12, 2018 at 2pm. Military rites will follow and be provided by members of the Wabasha American Legion Post #50, the Burkhardt-Roemer VFW Post #4086 and the MNARNG Honor Guard. His body will be cremated after the military service. Private interment will take place at Riverview Cemetery in Wabasha in the Tenney family plot on Friday. Family and friends may call at the funeral home on Wednesday from 4-7pm and from 1-2pm on Thursday.