Thomas Louis Vetter, 79, died at Advent Health Hospital from complications due to COVID-19 on November 11, 2021, surrounded by his loving family.
Tom was born on June 19, 1942 in Jamaica, New York to Louis and Ann Vetter. He discovered a love of travel at an early age and learned German as an exchange student. After earning his BS in Education at Truman University, Tom taught Math and German in Missouri. He earned an MS in Counseling Education from the University of Southern Illinois, where he met his beloved, Patty. They were married in 1969 and moved to Berlin, West Germany to teach at the John F. Kennedy School. He then became a guidance counselor for the USDESEA, now DODEA, Department of Defense Education Activity, where he continued his love of teaching and traveling. He and his family moved from Berlin, Germany to Naples, Italy to Ankara, Turkey and back to Baumholder, Germany over the span of 30 years. His fascination with the possibilities of technology led him to champion the use of computers in school starting in 1969.
After retiring from DODEA and moving back to the United States, Tom taught at multiple schools, including Sacred Heart and Daytona State College in Daytona Beach, Florida, while enjoying semi-retired living. Tom volunteered extensively at Our Lady of Hope as Minister of the Sick and as a 4th degree member of the Knights of Columbus. Tom loved to spend time with his children and grandchildren, traveling, fishing, gardening and looking for outdoor adventures. He never met a meal he didn’t enjoy. He enjoyed playing pinochle and pickleball with friends, and learning Tai Chi. He loved to walk along the boardwalk at New Smyrna Beach and Ponce Inlet and look for turtles.
As a lifelong educator and dedicated Catholic, Tom inspired all who met him with his love of life, commitment to service, and exuberant optimism. Above all, Tom loved learning about people and helping people of all ages. Anyone who met Tom recognized his compassion and genuine love for humankind. The Dalai Lama emphasized that “it is not enough to be compassionate; we must act.” Tom Vetter exemplified compassion in action each day.
Thomas Vetter is survived by his beloved wife of 52 years, Patricia; his children, Mike (Shannon), Laura (Rick), and Mary (Megan); his grandchildren, Jocelyn, Rachel, Virginia, Emiliana, William, and Malia; and his great-grandsons, Luca and Henry. He is also survived by two sisters, Georgina Chappell and Marilyn Hartman and their families.
A mass of Christian burial will be held at 8:30 am at Our Lady of Hope Catholic Church on December 3, 2021. The service may be viewed live online at ladyofhope.org/mass-times. A Celebration of Tom’s Life will be held after for family and friends. Cremation services will be managed by Baldwin Brothers Funeral services at 620 Dunlawton Ave, Port Orange, FL 32127; phone (386) 267-5653. Memorial contributions may be made in Tom’s memory to the Trevor Project at thetrevorproject.org.