Thomas "Tom" Baszler, age 52, of Huron, passed away Saturday, April 18, 2020, at the Huron Regional Medical Center.
His funeral service will be for family only; but will be streamed live on the Kuhler Funeral Home Facebook page at 2:00 PM, Thursday, April 23rd.
A memorial fund has been set up for the Baszler family at the Huron Area Education Federal Credit Union, 1855 Arizona Ave SW, Huron SD 57350.
Thomas R. Baszler was born November 14, 1967, to James and Lorna (Westall) Baszler at Huron. He lived in Redfield, where he grew up and attended school. Tom participated in baseball, football, wrestling and track, nearly every sport that was offered at Redfield. After age 7, he shared time between De Smet, with his father and step-mom and at Redfield with his mom. He graduated from Redfield High School in 1986.
Tom continued his education at Southwest Minnesota State University at Marshall, Minnesota, majoring in education. He also participated in baseball and wrestling while at SMSU. He transferred to Northern State University as a junior and received his bachelor’s degree in 1990. He would later return to NSU to earn his master’s degree.
The summer of 1993, Tom’s friend, Lori (Lodmel) Eggleston set him up on a blind date with her youngest sister, Rita Lodmel. Four months later, Tom asked Rita to marry him, and seven months from then, they were married on July 22, 1994, at St. Martin’s Catholic Church at Huron.
Tom started his teaching career in 1994 at the Brookings School District. In 1996, Tom was hired by the Huron School District. Tom started at Pride High and worked with the late Wayne Fenner for 11 years before transferring to the Math department at HHS. Several years ago, he chose to move to his first love, the Social Studies Department. Tom’s first coaching job in Huron was as an assistant track coach under Mark Wendelgass, whom Tom has always been grateful. He was currently the head track coach. Tom was a high school wrestling coach in South Dakota for 25 years; 20 of them for the Huron Tigers Wrestling Team. He had volunteered, as a wrestling coach in Redfield, and was head wrestling coach in De Smet for 3 years. He volunteered as a tiger wrestling coach for a year before being hired to work alongside his great friend, Dan McCarty, for 19 more years. Tom also loved to coach football, but gave that up to be able to watch his own daughter compete in sports during her high school years. He said it was the best decision he had ever made.
Tom loved coaching but always made it very clear that he was “a teacher first and a coach second.” He wanted to connect with his students and we believe he did. He remembered and talked about many of his students, years after they had left. He remained connected with many of his former students on Facebook. He loved to see and talk with his former students in the grocery store with their spouse and children. He would express almost daily to his family how proud he was of his former students. He loved working with the challenging students equally as much as the gifted students.
Tom and Rita, together, made such a great team. They were blessed with two daughters. Their first daughter, Courtney, would fall asleep in Tom’s arms every night; and then every morning they would have their daddy/daughter time together before mom, Rita, would wake up. Their second daughter, Cassidy, was born with Down Syndrome. This made their family stronger together. Tom and Cassidy loved having dad/daughter time as well. They loved to do dad/daughter dances, go rummaging, and hang out. Tom, was the “Best Daddy” to his little girls. Tom was the rock of his family. If he wasn’t teaching or coaching, he was home with his family. He was an amazing cook. He used to say that when he was young and wrestling, he would think of all the things he would cook if he wasn’t cutting weight. Rita has the feeling that “wrestlers make the best husbands because of all the discipline, hard work, honor, and closeness they develop when they are on the mat.” Tom certainly was the best husband and father anyone could imagine.
He was preceded in death by his grandparents; his father, James Baszler; his mother, Lorna (Westall) Baszler; Rita’s brother, Randy Lodmel; and a miscarried child they named, Reagan.
Grateful for having shared in his life are his wife, Rita; their two daughters, Courtney Baszler and Cassidy Baszler of Huron; his step-mother, Julie Baszler of De Smet; and his siblings, Sheree and Dana Coats of Rapid City, James “Skip” and Maggie Baszler of Sioux Falls, Jason and Angie Baszler of St. Cloud, MN and Jared and Ashley Baszler of Brookings. Tom is also survived by Rita’s parents, Flip and Linda Lodmel of Huron; Rita’s siblings, Everett and Debbie Lodmel of Huron, Lori and Jamie Eggleston of Wessington, and Melissa Heinen of Huron. He is survived by three aunts and uncles; their nieces and nephews and great nieces and great nephews.