Thomas J. Rooney

Jan. 23, 1923 – May 6, 2012

Thomas J. Rooney of Pewaukee was born to eternal life Sunday, May 6, 2012, at age 89.

He was the loving husband of Orel (nee Harms). He was the cherished father of Richard, Julia (Bill Graham), Daniel, David (Cielito), Mary Sellers (Mark) and Amy Christ (Kevin), and also was a proud grandfather and great-grandfather. He is also survived by his brother, William Rooney, and other relatives and friends.

He was preceded in death by his father, William Rooney; mother, Armena Rooney; and his brothers, John Rooney and Robert Rooney.

Thomas was born Jan. 23, 1923, in Chadron, Neb., and grew up in Hot Springs, S.D. He enjoyed sharing his memories and love of the Black Hills area with his family and friends, noting that one of his favorite jobs as a young man was his post as a park ranger for Wind Cave National Park, where he led cave tours. A truly honorable member of “the greatest generation, Thomas proudly served his country during World War II in the U.S. Navy, active duty, as an officer stationed in the South Pacific on PC 1134. His unit participated in five landings, including Leyte, which set off the Battle of Leyte Gulf. After the war, he returned to school and earned his Doctor of Jurisprudence Degree from the University of Colorado. He retired from the U.S. Navy Reserve as full lieutenant in 1959.

Thomas retired after a long career as corporate attorney and subsequently general counsel with Allis-Chalmers Corp. in West Allis.

Over the course of his tenure, he traveled to 31 foreign countries and in the process, was able to take a bit of time to ski in Sweden, Norway, France, Switzerland, Spain, Austria, Italy and Iran. He enjoyed athletic activities all through his life and lettered in football for his alma mater in Boulder in 1943. Thomas will be fondly remembered as a 39-year member of the Alpine Valley Patrol of the National Ski Patrol System, where he also served as legal counsel. He patiently and enthusiastically introduced each of his children to the sport.
He was a dedicated and tireless volunteer for the American Red Cross, the St. Vincent de Paul Society and St. Anthony Church. He regularly visited a local nursing home to bring the Eucharist, participated in the SVDP Meal Program and stayed active as a volunteer even through his last year of life. Thomas was a devoted parishioner of St. Anthony on the Lake Catholic Church in Pewaukee since 1963, where he served as the first parish council president. His strong Catholic faith was the defining focus of his life. He will be remembered by his family and friends as a loyal husband, loving father, thoughtful neighbor and good man. We will always miss him and will fondly remember the way he used to say, “It’s not ‘goodbye,’ it’s just ... ‘so long!’”

A Mass of Christian burial will be held at 10 a.m. Monday, May 14, at St. Anthony on the Lake, W280-N2101 Prospect Ave. (Highway SS), Pewaukee, WI 53072. Thomas will be interred at St. Joseph’s Cemetery, Waukesha.

Donations in his name may be made to the St. Vincent de Paul Society, 305 E. Main St., Waukesha, WI 53186, or St. Anthony on the Lake Catholic Church (see address above).
Cesarz, Charapata & Zinnecker Funeral Home, Cremation and Pre-Planning Services is serving the family. For an online obituary or to leave a message of condolence, please visit, or call 542-6609.