Thomas Vega Blanco was born in Minnesota to Thomas and Helen (Vega) Blanco on June 27, 1940. His family included seven brothers—Alonzo, Archie, Ricky, Lucio, Armin, Joey and Jesse—and seven sisters—Felisa, Lilly, Camilla, Mary, Ketta, Anita and Dorina. The household was filled with joy that is generated from 15 children, but Thomas experienced some hardship as well.
At age five, Thomas became ill with a fever that affected his hearing and caused deafness. His life was forever changed, but his enjoyment of childhood remained. In particular, he thrilled to visit his grandparent’s farm, where he had the freedom to run around, climb trees and explore life in the country. He liked chasing round with the many dogs, even choosing to sleep in the barn with them.
Tom’s early schooling was at St. John’s School for the Deaf in St. Francis, Wisconsin. He transferred to Wisconsin School for the Deaf in Delavan, where he was involved in sports and played on the high school football team. He also loved to read books, ride bicycle and swim.
After graduating from high school, Tom returned to Milwaukee, where he met a lovely young woman named Caroline Bujanowski. As it happened, Caroline’s mother first noticed Tom when he was talking with a friend outside their home. She noticed Tom signing with another boy and called Caroline over to observe the boys talking. That was the beginning of a romance between Tom and Caroline that grew into love and commitment. The couple was married March 13, 1971 at the Milwaukee County Courthouse and raised three children—Annie, Eddie and Thomas III—in their 40 years together.
Tom was employed at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee as Maintenance Janitor. He enjoyed his work over a career of 20 years, but he received even greater pleasure from time spent with the sign language students at UWM. He also kept up with news and politics through reading and made a hobby out of fixing pens.
Though he liked wearing black and other dark colors, Tom had a bright, fun-loving personality. He liked to tease and talk. The gift of gab spun out of his hands as he communicated with people who filled his life with joy.
Out of Caroline’s commitment to her Christian faith, she encouraged Tom to share the peace she experienced. “Ask Jesus to forgive your sins and He will come into your heart and stay there.” Tom responded that he believed in God and trusted in Jesus.
After battling cancer, Thomas Vega Blanco died on Wednesday, November 30, 2011 at the age of 71. He was surrounded by his family that includes his beloved wife Caroline Blanco (nee Bujanowski), his children Annie (Kerry) Johnson, Edward Bujanowski and Thomas Vega Blanco III. He is further survived by 4 grandchildren, brothers, sisters, other relatives and friends. Family and friends will gather Monday, December 5 at the Funeral Home from 6 PM until time of the Memorial Service at 7 PM. Served by Suminski LifeStory Funeral Homes, Niemann/Suminski, 2486 S. Kinnickinnic Ave, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, (414) 744-5156. www.LifeStoryNet.com