Thomas Lee Michael, known to many as Tommy, was born December 18, 1943 in Wilkes County, North
Wilkesboro, North Carolina. He passed away while being cared for at home, Brownington, Missouri on June
4, 2021. Tommy is preceded in death by his mother, Lavon Lear Greene-Smith, Step-father Cleo Smith and
his sister, Marie.
Tommy moved to the small rural community of Brownington, Missouri at the young age of 3 years old. He
attended Columbia Hall School 1 st and 2 nd grade, located in Mt. Zoin, Missouri, 3 rd – 8 th grade he attended
Diamond Point School. His High School years he attended Deepwater High School and graduated in 1962.
Tommy was a member of the Brownington Baptist Church, he was baptized December 13, 1959. This
hometown boy remained in contact with his childhood friend, Mike Tullis (who he considered to be his
brother) throughout his adult life. He continued to return to Brownington several times a year and
attended the Deepwater Labor Harvest Picnic as often as possible.
After High School, Tommy entered the United States Air Force where he became an aircraft and equipment
mechanic. He served his country for 5 years, traveling to Alaska, Virginia, California, Thailand and Vietnam.
He received many service Commendation Medals while in the military. One of his big honors, that he kept
to himself, was being chosen as a mechanic to support and service the United States Presidential Aircraft
(Lyndon B. Johnson President). During the latter part of his service he spent a year in Thailand, where he
learned how to speak Tia, he became so well versed in the language that he was able to communicate with
the community and even passed their drivers test.
After leaving the military, Tommy work as a Semi Truck driver for Womack Express delivering produce. A
year later, he changed careers, and accepted a position for Agri Transportation, as the river boat engineer.
Years later, he was promoted to Chief Engineer of the river boat barge traveling up and down the Missouri,
Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. He truly enjoyed his job and his fellow employees. He would come home and
share so many interesting stories about the river boat. He retired after 32 years of service.
Once Tommy retired from the river boat, he decided to enjoy his quiet country life in Alto Pass, Illinois
(Ponoma). Tommy lived in a remote cabin surrounded by timber, wildlife and the National Forrest, which
he truly loved. He spent his time hunting, fishing, wood carving, making bows and arrows, feeding the
wildlife, judging BBQ contest, cooking in BBQ contest, going to gun shows and spending time with his many
Illinois friends. When he was not in Illinois, he would travel to see his Missouri family. While in Missouri he
enjoyed working on the farm, riding tractors, cutting trees, riding 4 wheelers, fishing, and running trout
lines, but the highlight of his visit was playing cards for hours (10-point Pitch).
Tommy was a member of the Cobden American Legion Post 259 (Illinois), The Masonic Lodge of Cobden
(Illinois), the Veterans of Foreign War, a Lifetime member of the American Rifle Association, Pope & Young,
and served five years in the United States Air Force. Tommy was known for being a hard worker and having
a kind heart. He was dedicated to helping his community and friends whenever needed.
In the Spring of 2020, Tommy was diagnosed with bladder cancer. This changed everything in his life, he
battled this battle till his death on June 4, 2021. During his fight with cancer, he had one last request, he
wanted to go home to Brownington, Missouri, it was unbelievable that he could make the 7 hour trip, but
he was determined to make it, and he did. He spent the last six months of his life in the comfort of home,
surrounded by loved ones every day, watching old westerns and hunting shows.