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Obituary: Thomas P. Tempest, Panama City Beach, Florida

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Thomas Parker Tempest, 76, of Panama City Beach, Florida, formerly of Columbus, passed peacefully in his sleep July 14, 2014, after spending his final days surrounded by his family, sharing favorite memories.

Tom is survived by Barbara, his wife of 45 years; daughters, Teresa Branum of Columbus, Becky Tempest of Columbus, Amy (Ron) Hilderbrand of Redland, NC, and Leisa (Ben) Strafuss of Collierville, TN; a sister, Betty (Phil) Aguilar of Greenfield; five loving grandchildren; nieces, nephews and extended family.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Thomas R. and Edith Hager Tempest; sisters, Jean Bain and Marjorie Haymaker; a brother, Richard Tempest; and an infant son, Timothy Joe Tempest.

A service celebrating Tom's life will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 19, at Barkes, Weaver & Glick Funeral Home on Washington Street with Pastor Jim Pursley officiating. Family and friends may call from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday and from 9 a.m. until service time Saturday. Burial will be at Garland Brook Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the Benevolence Outreach program at Gulf Beach Baptist Church in Panama City Beach where Tom was a member. Those wishing to sign Tom's guestbook may do so at Online condolences may be sent to the Tempest family and a video tribute may be viewed at

Tom was born in Columbus, Indiana, November 7, 1937, and graduated from Columbus High School in 1955. He was a member of the Indiana Army National Guard and later served active duty with the U.S. Air Force. He then promptly joined Cummins Engine Company, starting his career as a mechanic's helper. Tom commented that one of his most interesting jobs in the early days at Cummins was as a mechanic's helper on the development of the revolutionary PT fuel system. This component was specifically invented for the 1952 "Cummins Diesel Special" race car that ran in the Indianapolis 500 and was the only part of the program that lived on after the race program was canceled. Perhaps that is where he began his life-long love of racing when on any given Sunday you would find him glued to a TV or in the stands cheering on his favorite NASCAR driver.

Toward the end of his career, Tom was managing the relationship Cummins enjoyed with Freightliner. Tom was known for taking charge, keeping his commitments and insisting on others doing the same. Because of these traits and his dedication to his colleagues, he was affectionately called "The Captain," an unofficial title he felt honored to hold.

Most knew that one of Tom's avocations was fishing, but few knew that in his younger years he enjoyed an occasional foxhunt. He was also accomplished in Judo and was a member of the Indianapolis Judo Club. And of course, Tom also loved his Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

A natural born entrepreneur, Tom's first foray into business was as a real estate developer. After completing the Tempest Subdivision, he ventured into laundromats and car washes, owning and operating businesses located in Edinburgh, Crothersville, and Columbus. The most interesting venture for him involved a joint partnership and purchase of a saw mill in Nicaragua where mahogany was cut and exported to the United States for many years.

It was the simple things around him in life that he never took granted, commenting daily how fortunate and thankful he was. Above all, Tom was absolutely devoted to his family and knew that his most important role was being a father. Over the years he wholeheartedly supported his four daughters, leading them by example to ensure they were grounded in their Christianity. Tom also had a real passion for serving his community. This translated into years of volunteer service, including the Benevolence Outreach program, the American Legion, the Morning Optimist Club and serving on the board of the Dunes of Panama Condo Association.

Tom also had a secret handshake that he reserved for special moments. On those exceptional occasions, when one expected a handshake, Tom would reach out with his left hand saying it was more appropriate because it was closest to his heart.

Finally and most importantly, Tom was a man of strong faith, believing in the power and strength of Jesus Christ's love, beauty and peace. Tom lived his life knowing that when his time came, our Lord would greet and welcome him home.

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