Thomas M. Bollinger, 73, of Buffalo City, WI, passed away peacefully surrounded by his loving family at Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center in LaCrosse, WI, on Saturday, November 20, 2021.
Tom was born on April 25, 1948, in Winona, MN, to Merlin and Verna Bollinger. Tom graduated from Cochrane-Fountain City High School in 1966. In 1968, he received an associate degree in tool and die making from Coleman Technical Institute (now Western Technical College) in LaCrosse, WI. Tom worked as a machinist for a tool and die company in Winona, MN for 3 years before opening his own machine shop (Tom’s Machine Shop) on the home farm in Buffalo City, WI.
On September 15, 1973, he was united in marriage to Marilyn Blecha. They were married for 48 years and together they operated Bollinger’s River Valley Farm in Buffalo City, WI for over 4 decades. They were the third generation of Bollinger’s to run the farm and it meant a great deal to Tom to farm alongside his son, Jesse, the fourth generation, for the last 23 years.
Tom was active in his community and over the years served as a volunteer firefighter, was an FFA Alumni member, served on the Hope United Church of Christ Consistory, and loved demonstrating at the Old Time Farm Fest.
Tom loved all things mechanical and even after he took over the farm from his parents, he continued to do machining work on the side, usually to help out someone in a pinch. He was always willing to lend a hand to someone in need and this help usually came in the form of some sort of mechanical fix. For decades, Tom’s Machine Shop has been a gathering place for neighbors, family, and friends.
Tom loved International Harvester tractors and spent many hours in the last years of his life procuring and restoring collector pieces. He and his son, Jesse proudly own all of the seven tractors in the IH 86 series.
After becoming a grandfather, Tom built “Grandpa Tom’s Park” on Rose Valley Creek (a small creek that runs through the farm property). The park has a small solar powered cabin, a sandbox and swing set for his grandchildren, and many flower beds. He spent hours tending to his flowers and it brought him great joy to share bouquets with friends and family.
Tom is survived by his wife, Marilyn; son, Jesse; daughter, Amy (Mark) Herendeen; grandchildren, Jack, Calvin, & Lylly Herendeen; step-mother, Barbara Bollinger; brother, Jerry; and nieces and nephews.
Tom is preceded in death by his parents, Merlin & Verna Bollinger; and sister, Nancy Muench.
Visitation will be at the Talbot Family Funeral Homes in Alma, WI on Friday, November 26, 2021 from 4-7 pm. Funeral services will be held on Saturday, November 27, 2021, at Hope United Church of Christ in Cochrane at 11 a.m. Visitation will be one hour prior to services, from 10 to 11 a.m. Burial will immediately follow services at the Buffalo City Cemetery with a funeral lunch to follow at Hope United Church of Christ.
Talbot Family Funeral Homes are assisting the family with arrangements. Per the family's wishes, face masks will be required, regardless of vaccination status.Memorials may be made to the “Lifting Up Hope” fund at Hope United Church of Christ.