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Mourners remember uncomplaining, caring man
By Dale Steinke | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 8/4/2009 5:03 PM | Updated: 8/4/2009 9:54 PM

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Originally published Jan. 15, 1993

Thursday's surprise sunshine could not lighten the grief of family and friends who came to bury murder victim Thomas Mennes.

They gathered at St Thomas of Villanova Church in Palatine to pay their final respects to the 32-year-old man murdered a week ago as he worked at a Brown's Chicken & Pasta restaurant in Palatine.

Mourning relatives lined the entryway to the church, silently wiping away tears as his casket was brought in. During his sermon, the Rev Walter E. Huppenbauer related a story from a parish deacon's wife who shopped at a Dominick's grocery store where Tom worked until a few weeks ago, when he took a higher paying job at Brown's.

The woman, who uses crutches, always could count on Tom to be there for her. "Sometimes I'd have my groceries ready to go to the car, and he'd be across the store," the priest said, quoting the woman. "He'd see me, get a big smile and run over to help me."

Tom's twin brother Jerry, head bowed, sobbed openly throughout the service and Larry Mennes paused frequently to collect himself as he eulogized his brother, describing him as a simple, uncomplaining, caring man who liked to play darts, go bowling and enjoy the outdoors.

Larry said Tom often would get up at 4 a.m. to go deer hunting, but was incapable of killing his target. "One time, a buck jumped out in front of him about 20 yards away and froze," Larry said. "Tom drew his arrow and at the last moment shot above the buck. Tom couldn't shoot a rabbit, he couldn't hurt anything."

He had few belongings, but among them were some items that deeply touched Larry, including a crucifix and several prayer cards from other relatives' funerals.

"Our mother passed away 18 years ago in January," Larry said, pausing several times to choke back tears. "It wasn't until I read the prayer card I realized mom passed away 18 years ago to the day."