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Thomas Ralph DearingAugust 26, 1949 ~ October 13, 2017 (age 68)
Thomas Ralph Dearing, age 68, transitioned to his after-life adventure on October 13, 2017, after his last, year-long fight with cancer. He leaves his wife Laralyn Sasaki Dearing, his "son" John Rivera and his "daughter" Sheila Jensen, all of Columbus, as well as his brother Gary Dearing and sisters-in-law Mary (Ronnie) Dearing and Janie (Donnie) Dearing, all of Jackson, Ohio, and many cousins including Mike (Bea) Lowry of Columbus, and many, many "favorite" nieces and nephews. Tom’s ohana (chosen family of friends and relatives) delighted and comforted him to the end.
Born on August 26, 1949, Tom was the youngest of five sons born to Wilma White Dearing and Ralph Dearing of Jackson, who both predecease him, as do his brothers Ronnie, Donnie and Larry. Tom graduated from Jackson High School and attended the Ohio State University. Tom won hearts with his sense of wonder and impressed those around him with his business sensibility – and his lifelong defense of the underdog. From being a bartering king at a young age to a Navy submarine resupply officer to a poker dealer in Las Vegas to a gandy dancer for the railroad to a salesman of paper products – Tom was born to sell and to communicate. He was known for his generosity, his fairness and his integrity – and cooking for his friends.
With Bruce Wiland, Tom launched Events Video Production, later E-Video, and became an outspoken advocate for the Weinland Park neighborhood through their joint work as residents and landlords. The numerous artists they supported often went on to international acclaim in a variety of media.
A proud gay activist and human rights advocate for decades, Tom helped found Positive Vision Theatre. He daily stood up for those who were being treated unfairly or who needed encouragement to reach their potential. Although he served on boards, including the Girls Scouts Seal of Ohio Council, where he led a record fundraising effort and YouthBuild Columbus, Tom preferred to work with individuals, restoring their faith in themselves and giving them the confidence to move forward – and to help others.
Tom enjoyed a lifetime of travel around the world, both personally and professionally. After marrying Laralyn and moving to the Eastgate neighborhood, Tom became Chief Communications Officer of Productive Entertainment Inc., and its emerging personal finance tool, The Money Game. His greatest professional pleasure came from mentoring business entrepreneurs. Tom was the ultimate (true) storyteller, using his life moments to teach others and to connect on their journeys. He loved his 19 years with Laralyn, his sprawling ohana, his dachshund Lulu, their home he dubbed "Paradise" that was open to all who brought positive energy and loving hearts. Ultimately, he loved encouraging dreams and fellow dreamers.
Tom was so grateful for the years of excellent physical care he received from the Veterans Administration in Columbus and all of the incredible professionals there, as well as those at Riverside/OhioHealth and at The James Cancer Center. In the end, the professionals of the Zusman Hospice of Wexner Heritage Village provided comfort and respect for his transition and Tom’s family truly thanks them for their remarkable compassion and support.
In dying, as in living, he did it all the way he wanted. Tom was the embodiment of the Khalil Gibran saying: "To be able to look back upon one's life in satisfaction is to live twice." He lived more fully, laughed more often and was loved by legions; his legacies will continue for generations through stories, lessons, families and hope. Bravo for a job well done.
At Tom's request, he is being cremated, and a Celebration of Life will be held at a future date.
In Tom’s honor, we ask that you NOTICE those around you who need a smile, a helping hand or a meal – and ACT on what you see. Consider making gifts of time or treasure to the organizations that support our neighbors, especially the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, the American Red Cross Apheresis Donation and The Church for All People – as well as those that bring us joy like CATCO, the Aldus Society and the Columbus Museum of Art. Tom believed we are all spiritual beings on a human journey — and he spent a lifetime helping others find their footing on that path. Please continue that work.