Thomas Puplava, age 73, entered into eternal life on April 6, 2018.
Tom spent his life in service of his family, his community, his church, and his beloved St. John the Baptist Catholic School.
Tom was a resident of the Hammond/Whiting/Robertsdale area for his entire life. He graduated from St. John the Baptist Catholic School, Bishop Noll Institute, Calumet College of St. Joseph, and Indiana State University. After teaching at St. John for several years, he became the school’s principal—a role he held for 32 years until his retirement in 2005. During his tenure, he coached track and football and mentored innumerable students, teachers, and principals.
While he was a teacher at St. John, he met the love of his life, Diane Arnold Puplava, and they were married in 1972. They were blessed with five children: Jennifer (Peter Galsworthy), Allison (Joseph Burns), Becky (Jeremy Devine), Thomas Jr. (Sharon), and Mark (Erin). He enjoyed his role as “Papa” to 15 grandchildren: Joey, Maddy and Owen Burns; Annabel and Beatrice Goodstal; Andrew, Evan and Cecilia Galsworthy; Lexie, Leah and Lily Puplava; Jake, Isabelle and Sophia Puplava; and Scarlett Devine. Papa loved to entertain the kids with silly songs and voices, dance moves, stories, and snuggles. Spending time with family was his greatest joy.
After his retirement, Tom continued to stay very busy working in the Diocese of Gary school office, teaching students as an adjunct instructor for Calumet College, providing religious education as a catechist and a VIRTUS facilitator trainer, serving as an Extraordinary Minister of Communion, and working on the City of Hammond College Bound Exceptions Committee. He founded the St. John Alumni Association (Forever Blue and Gold), and chaired the St. John school festival for 16 years. He also worked diligently as a board member of the Hammond Port Authority for many years. Tom enjoyed volunteering and spending time with members of the community, whether it be while parking cars at St. John for Pierogi Fest, sitting in the front row at Mass, or walking to his beloved Hammond Marina and Whiting Lakefront Park.
Tom received a number of awards throughout and following his career, including the Outstanding Graduate of Calumet College of St. Joseph award, the Distinguished Hoosier Award (from Governor Evan Bayh), and the Phi Kappa Phi Award (from Indiana State University). Tom was also recognized by CCSJ as an Alumni Wave of Success recipient, and was a two-time BP $10,000 energy grant recipient on behalf of St. John School.
Above all, Tom was a humble man of deep faith. As a lifelong parishioner of St. John the Baptist Catholic church, he bore witness to that faith through his acts of selfless service.
Tom will be greatly missed by his immediate family, his sister Patricia Matej, his brother-in-law Michael (Deborah) Arnold and sisters in law Andrea Arnold and Peggy Arnold, his many nieces and nephews, extended family members, and all others who knew and loved him. He will be welcomed to Heaven by his parents (John and Ann Puplava), his brother John Robert Puplava, his in-laws Robert and Jean Arnold, and his brothers-in-law Thomas Matej and Richard Arnold.
Tom and his family would like to express their deep gratitude to Doctor James Wallace, his staff, the staff of the Hospice of the Calumet Area, and the other medical professionals who provided such excellent care to Tom over the past 7 1/2 years.
Tom has asked that, in lieu of flowers, his legacy be remembered with donations to Forever Blue and Gold (St. John’s alumni association). His family invites those who wish to share memories to either post them to the Forever Blue and Gold Facebook page or to mail them to Forever Blue and Gold at 1849 Lincoln Avenue, Whiting, IN 46394. Notecards will be provided at the visitation for those who wish to share memories at that time. Well done, good and faithful servant.
Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, April 11, 2018, 9:30am at the Baran Funeral Home, 1235-119th St., Whiting; a Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10:00am at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Whiting with the Rev. Timothy McFarland, C.PP.S., officiating; interment, St. John Cemetery, Hammond; visitation at the funeral home on Tuesday from 2:00-5:00 and 7:00-9:00pm; parish wake service at the funeral home on Tuesday at 4:00pm lead by the Rev. John E. Kalicky, C.PP.S.