John Thomas Brinker “Tom”, age 76 of Grand Rapids passed away Sunday, February 11, 2018 after a ten-year battle with lymphoma. He was preceded in death by his daughter Karen Brinker and seven siblings. He is survived by his wife of 56 years Nancy; son Dr. Brett (Dr. Heather Slay) Brinker; sister Jo Ellen (Charles) Wilburn; grandchildren Matthew, Ryan, Ethan; many nieces and nephews; and lifetime friends Anton “Tony” and Jeanann Johnson.
Born in Columbus, Ohio to George Maynard and Ruth Ann Brinker. He moved to the Bronx, NY City where he attended De Witt Clinton High School where he was captain of the HS football team and MVP of the football team. He attended MSU where he was a walk-on on the Spartan football team. He met and married Nancy in the Bronx, NYC in 1962.
Since then, he and Nancy relocated 16 times around the country. He started as a salesman for Owens-Illinois Glass Container Co. in 1967 and by the time he retired after 30 years, he achieved the position of Vice President/Business Unit Manager-Carriers. He won numerous awards over the years and holds a packaging design patent. He was a devoted family man to his wife, children and grandchildren. He was an avid supporter of animal rescue with his daughter Karen.
Tom was a hockey dad/grandpa to his son and grandsons and proud supporter of Boy Scouts. He was a music enthusiast and talented woodworker for which he gave many bowls, pen sets, and gavels as gifts. He was a 32nd Degree Mason starting in Birmingham, Alabama in 1969.
He held a duel membership in South Carolina and Lodge 34 in Grand Rapids. He served as Lodge Secretary for many years and was awarded Mason of the Year. He was also a member of the Society of the War of 1812 and First Families of Ohio. Tom was never at a loss for words. He was a great storyteller and had an uncanny ability to have a joke to tell on just about any topic. The family is deeply grateful for the care provided by Drs. Alan Campbell and Timothy O’Rourke at Cancer and Hematology Centers of Western Michigan (CHCWM),
Dr. Stephanie Williams at the Spectrum Health Bone Marrow Transplant Program, and Dr. Leo Gordon at Northwestern University. A very special thank you to all of the advanced practice providers and nurses at Spectrum and CHCWM who provided exemplary, compassionate care to Tom and his family. Tom/Dad /Papa Tom will be deeply missed. He was a good man – as Tom would say “there are not many of us left.” Funeral services will be held Thursday, February 15, 4:00 p.m. at Mayflower Congregational Church, 2345 Robinson Rd. SE, Grand Rapids. Rev. Mark Barger Elliott officiating, with Masonic Services under the auspices of Grand Rapids Masonic Lodge #34. The family will meet with friends and relatives one hour prior to the service at the church. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Humane Society of West Michigan, 3077 Wilson NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49534.