Thomas L. Schwalbe | Obituaries

CHAMPAIGN — Tom Schwalbe departed this life on Sunday (Aug. 21, 2022) in the loving company of his family.

Tom was born April 29, 1948, in Decatur. He was the second of four children born to his parents, Edwin Schwalbe and Marcella Schwalbe.

He is survived by his brothers, Larry Schwalbe and Brian Schwalbe; and sister, Marcia Schwalbe.

Tom graduated from Decatur MacArthur High School and soon thereafter enrolled at the University of Illinois to, among other things, follow in the footsteps of his older brother, Larry Schwalbe, who became a nuclear physicist in Los Alamos, N.M.

A talented student himself, upon graduation from the University of Illinois, Tom enrolled in the dental program at the University of Illinois-Chicago. He often regaled his family with stories of the once-small-town boy arriving in Chicago. Unsurprisingly, the material was vast and deep, and the stories never got old. Tom Schwalbe the CTA bus driver; Tom Schwalbe the bumpkin’ scofflaw strong-armed by Chicago’s finest to donate — or else; Tom Schwalbe volunteering to work in the pathology lab to get free meals; and Tom Schwalbe courting the hand of his first wife, Jorjean Schwalbe.

On March 2, 1974, Tom married Jorjean. Tom convinced his wife to move to Champaign-Urbana to begin a life together, and, as they say, the rest is history. They were blessed with two daughters, Anthea Schwalbe and Christina Schwalbe, and Tom soon thereafter opened his dental practice, Schwalbe Family Dentistry. There is a rumor that Tom was AWOL for a brief moment of one or both of his daughters’ births. This cannot be confirmed. However, there’s strong circumstantial evidence that at the alleged time/date/place, the Illini football team was playing Michigan.

Jorjean Schwalbe tragically preceded Tom in death.

Fortune would again be upon Tom, and on April 29, 1995, Tom married Nancy Schwalbe. Tom and Nancy raised their children together, Anthea Schwalbe (spouse-Dave Steigmann), Matt Smith (spouse-Melissa Smith), Christina Schwalbe and Katie Smith, all of whom are saddened by his passing. Most notable is the loss of Tom to his grandchildren, Will Steigmann, Luke Steigmann, Oliver Smith, Charlie Smith and Pierce Fonner. Their Poppy doted on each and every one of them.

Tom and Nancy traveled extensively with the Six Amigos, the self-given nom de guerre for their closest travel companions and friends, some of whom have preceded Tom in death.

Tom was a skilled and exacting dentist. He once remarked his only passion; his only hobby was dentistry. And he was a great dentist. But for those who knew him, he did have another passion — his family and his grandchildren. He will be missed.

Tom was a devout Lutheran and member of St. John Lutheran Church. He sought comfort and guidance in his faith and believed in the life of the world to come.

Donations in memory of Tom may be made to CHEZ Veterans Center or St. John Lutheran Church.

A funeral service will be held at St. John Lutheran Church on Monday, Aug. 29, at 10 a.m. A private burial will follow. A celebration of life will be from noon to 2 p.m. at the Champaign Country Club.

Condolences may be offered at


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