Thomas Ree Balm, the son of Thomas T. and Ivadel (Wickersheim) Balm was born Aug.14, 1932, at Fort Dodge. Tom Balm grew up in Fort Dodge near the river. His father was a city fireman and his grandfather owned a filling station in town. For a few years he lived with his Grandma Wickersheim who taught him a lot about "saving."
He graduated from Fort Dodge High School and continued his education at Iowa Central Junior College in Fort Dodge. Tom was called to the ministry during a church camp at Riverview Park in Cedar Falls, where he later built a cabin for his family to live in during summer camps. He attended Westmar College in LeMars where he met his first wife Darline. He later attended seminary and was assigned the first of his eight churches in Bolan, Iowa. Tom and Darline were married for more than 25 years and had four children as well as four foster children and one live-in student.
In 1987, Tom (and his dog Shasta) married Marilyn Wilson (and her dog Cuddles) while serving the UM church in Estherville. Marilyn says life was never dull including having three foster children of their own.
Starting in the early 2000s Tom and Marilyn spent their winters in Florida where they met many new friends. They spent the summers in Garner, Iowa where they resided until his death. Throughout his life
Tom had a knack for finding humor in life. From his college antics to his unique Christmas letters, Tom marched to the beat of a different drummer.
Tom served the following churches as a minister, Trinity Evangelical United Brethren Church, Bolan; Lansing Evangelical United Brethren Church, Lansing; Trinity United Methodist Church, Dysart; Calvary United Methodist Church, Le Mars; Trinity United Methodist Church, Cedar Falls;, Estherville United Methodist Church, Estherville; Christ United Methodist Church, Davenport, and Eldora United Methodist Church, Eldora, all in Iowa.
Throughout his ministry Tom would always find a different perspective that would reveal God's word, often times finding the positives in difficult situations. His compassion and empathy for others as well as "all the defenseless creatures" defined his life. Up to his death, he was more concerned about others than himself. He enjoyed collecting stamps, coins, music boxes, pocket knives and trains. Other interests included genealogy, travel, gardening and attending multiple churches.
Tom is survived by his wife, Marilyn (Schnell) Balm, of Garner; former wife, Darline (Miller) Balm-Demmel, of Cedar Falls; children, Stephen (Sara) Balm, of Spirit Lake, Jonathon Balm, of Brooklyn, and his fiancée, Angie Story, Brian (Nancy) Balm, of Omaha, Neb., and Michelle Balm, of Jesup; step-daughter, Kathy Janssen, of Mason City; step-son, David Alsvig, of Boerne, Texas; 15 grandchildren, Angela (Balm) Ahlgren, Alisa (Balm) Oliver, Aaron Balm, Joan (Balm) Rasmussen, Dustin Balm, Derek Balm, Daniel Balm, Kelli (Balm) Hood, Alexander Balm, Taylor Balm, Amelia Balm, Troy Janssen, Mike Janssen, Adam Janssen and Eric Alsvig; and 10 great-grandchildren, Ella Ahlgren, Lexi Oliver, Trevor Balm, Kayla Balm, Keenan Rasmussen, Kiley Rasmussen, Aaron Janssen, Michael Janssen, Hunter Janssen and Tucker Janssen.
He was preceded in death by his parents; a sister, Sally (Balm) Dempsey; a brother, Jerry Balm; and a granddaughter, Aubrey Oliver.
Memorial services will be held 1 p.m., Monday, Dec. 3, at the United Methodist Church in Garner with the Rev. Paul Evans officiating. Visitation will be from 2:30-4:30 p.m. Sunday at the United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall in Garner.
Memorials may be directed to Hospice of North Iowa.
Cataldo Funeral Home of Garner is in charge of arrangements.