Thomas J. Canter

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Thomas J. Canter, age 67, of Nixa, Mo., died of a heart attack Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. He was born Dec. 8, 1951 in Ashtabula, Ohio, the son of Thomas and Lola (Kelly) Canter.
Thomas (Tom) served his country in the U.S. Army until his retirement, for approximately 24 years. He served in the Vietnam War, as a combat engineer. Tom was in a lot of action there. Thomas was exposed to agent orange while there, which caused health problems later in life. After that, he became a drill sergeant. After that, he became a Green Beret in Special Forces. Tom stayed there until his retirement. He was a Green Beret for approximately 12 years. Retired as Sgt. Major.
While serving his country, Tom was shot, hung, and in a helicopter crash, and other things. He saved the pilot's life, got him out, and helped about seven other men get out of the crash, all this with a broken back, broken neck, broken ankle, and a concussion-he had grit! He won many medals in his career.
After Tom's retirement, he taught school and J.R.O.T.C. in Ozark, Mo., and Poplar Bluff, Mo., and New Madrid, Mo., also worked as a teacher in Van Buren, Mo., with needy children. He worked in the Gallop, New Mexico area with Indian children also. Young people loved him.
Tom loved people, especially children. Tom took the children camping, repelling, etc, on his own time. No pay for it. He got many kids off drugs and out of trouble.
Everyone loved Tom and his wit and humor. He always made us all happy.
Tom loved his family and friends and did many things to help them, from nice gifts to installing wood floors, etc. Tom loved his dogs too. He loved the outdoors. Tom was a master carpenter, made beautiful cedar hope chests, cradles, etc., and gave them away as gifts, free. Tom was also a great cook! His steaks on the grill were wonderful and his spaghetti, meatballs, egg omelettes, bacon and home fries, etc., were great!
Tom was a Mason and member of Friend Lodge #352 A.F. and A.M. in Ozark, Mo.
On June 15, 2002, Tom married Karen Roberts. Tom was a very talented author and poet. He wrote many good books and beautiful poems. Included was the wonderful book "Indian Giver," for which, he came back to his hometown, for some book signings a few years ago. All proceeds went to St. Jude's Children's' Hospital. He was a wonderful man and had such a big generous heart! He would buy clothes for children that he heard of, was in need, and leave them in a bag on their mailbox, etc. He never let them know what he did. Tom would do that all year, not just at Christmas time.
Survivors include his wife, Karen; children, Lola Canter, Thomas Canter (Debra), Donna Tatum, Austin Story (Erin), Michelle Pender, Dana Roberts and Katalina Mitchell; 8 grandsons; 1 granddaughter; 1 great-grandson; 1 great-granddaughter; and three sisters, Loretta Carr, Irene Schlick (Kenneth), and Buretta Malene (John).
He was preceded in death by his parents and other siblings; brothers Lester, Denver, and Herbert; and sisters Garnet Canter and Virginia Neff. Tom lost his mother at approximately 4 years old.
Also survived by sister-in-law Vi Canter and many nieces and nephews.
He was voted "Teacher of the Year" also in Who's Who Book.
100 men will test today, only 3 will win the Green Beret. Our Green Beret is gone.
A funeral service with full military honors was held Sat., 1/19/2019, at 1 p.m. at Evangel Temple, Springfield, Mo., under direction of Adam's Funeral Home, Nixa, Mo.
Officiating was 4-Star General McChrystal's brother Scott McChrystal, music Ballad of the Green Beret.
Our family's "Ray of Sunshine" is gone. We're so proud of Tom and all he did. He will be loved and missed by us all, forever. He's gone, way too soon.
Tom touched so many lives, and for the better, all who knew him. We love you, Tom, God Bless.
Written by sister Irene Schlick, Ashtabula, Ohio.
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Published on February 4, 2019
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