Paul (Tom) Skogen
July 26th, 1940 ~ November 16, 2022
Paul (Tom) Skogen, age 82, of Onalaska, Wisconsin, passed away on Wednesday, November 16 at Bethany Riverside, where he resided for the past three years. Tom was born July 26th, 1940, to Paul and Jane (Aiken) Skogen in La Crosse, Wisconsin. He was the oldest of three brothers. Cause of death was dementia.
During his youth, Tom worked alongside his brothers, Dave and Gary, doing many small jobs at their parents Skogen’s IGA grocery store. The “boys” would sort pop bottles by vendor, package eggs, or bag potatoes-whatever needed to be done. The store and their house were connected, so their dad would give a holler that help was needed. The boys would go running to do their job.
While attending Onalaska High School, Tom sang in the choir and played trumpet in the band. It became evident as time passed, that Tom’s passion was for music.
Upon graduation from Onalaska High School, he attended Luther College, where he fell in love with the Nordic Choir. The highlight of his Christmas season was attending the yearly Luther College Nordic Choir Christmas Concert.
After graduating from the University of La Crosse, Tom taught in Spring Grove, MN, and Mindoro, WI, before journeying to Milwaukee and accepting a teaching position with the West Allis School District. He enjoyed teaching kids with special needs – always giving them a little humor with his instruction.
After the death of his father in 1976, Tom resigned his teaching position in West Allis to return home and help with the family business. Tom was a loved leader in the community relations department at Skogen’s IGA, and continued his role as the family moved to the larger Festival Foods model.
Tom’s passions were his church, music, and beauty pageants. He often spoke of the Miss America pageant as his Super Bowl. In 1980, he started serving as a field director for the Miss Wisconsin organization. He also assisted with many pageants in the greater La Crosse area and judged several state pageants throughout the country.
Tom was a member of the First Lutheran Church choir for over 40 years. He had the most beautiful baritone voice. One Onalaska choir member recounted that at times, she wouldn’t sing so she could instead listen to Tom’s rich baritone voice. Tom also looked forward to singing in the Methodist Church Cantata each December. “Good, Quality music” was his joy. Music was his relaxation.
Tom loved his church, First Lutheran, in Onalaska, which is where he was baptized, confirmed, and now having his funeral. He looked forward to spending time at First Lutheran with his neighbor and friend, Mike Peper (custodian at First Lutheran), helping with whatever needed to be done.
Tom was involved in many aspects of the Onalaska Community. He was a member of the Onalaska Rotary Club, Masonic Lodge, Onalaska Historical Society, the city’s Long-Range Planning Committee, the Sesquicentennial Committee, and the Onalaska Cemetery Beautification Committee. Tom was parade marshal of the Onalaska Sun Fish days in 2003, an honor of which he was very proud. Tom remarked that, “Like Miss America, small-town festivals like Sunfish Days are part of the fabric of American life, and I’m proud to be a part of it.” He looked forward to the Memorial Day parade and services held at the Onalaska cemetery. He enjoyed walking the cemetery after the service, recalling memories of some of the interred.
Family heritage was also very important to Tom. He was proud of his Norwegian ancestry, Halfway Creek Church, and the Skogen Homestead (“Skogenheim”), in Halfway Creek. He vacationed in Norway to visit the community where the Skogen family immigrated from prior to coming to Holmen, Wi.
Tom loved people and would often offer up suggestions to his brothers, Gary and Dave, to promote an employee. He also kept his eyes open for that future “Miss” Onalaska, Oktoberfest, Holmen, etc., amongst employees. He was recruiting at all times for the local pageants.
Tom is survived by brothers, Dave (Barb), Gary and Gary’s friend, Emily; Aunts Beverly Fuhrman (Onalaska) and Carol Rodgers (Appleton); Nephew Mark Skogen (De Pere); Nieces Susan Langer (De Pere), Kristin (Heath) Tschumper, Kayla Schleuter, and Karee (Jeff) Munson, and Stephanie Skogen. He is also survived by great nephews, great nieces, and many cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents, Jane and Paul; Grandparents, Orris and Gladys Skogen, and John and Cora Aiken; and close friend, Dennis Wall.
Heartfelt gratitude from the family goes out to all the special caregivers Tom had through his journey with Dementia: Onalaska Care Center, Laurel Manor, Eagle Crest North, his “family” at Bethany Riverside. Also, a huge thank you to Katie Wood and Nancy Beguin for the many rides to choir practice and church services, and for the visits to Bethany Riverside bringing treats. Thank you to his high school classmate, Lois Riniker, and to Pastor Scott Skogen for their frequent visits with Tom.
Funeral services will be held tomorrow, Friday, November 18th at 11:00 a.m. at First Lutheran Church, 410 Main Street, Onalaska, WI. Friends may visit with the family from 9:00a.m. until the time of the service. In lieu of flowers, a gift can be made in Tom’s memory to the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra, 201 Main St, Ste.250, La Crosse, WI 54601; to First Lutheran Church, 401 Main St, Onalaska, WI 54650; or to an organization of the donor’s choice.
Tom will be remembered for his wonderful sense of humor, and love of family and friends. He was loved by many. He added “spark” to every gathering. Get-togethers have not been the same without him. Rest In Peace, Tom!
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