Thomas (Tom) John Kucera

Thomas (Tom) John Kucera, 73, of East Bernard, was called to be with Jesus on Feb. 15, 2020. Peter Joseph and Celestine Victoria Kucera gave birth to their second child on Jan. 3, 1947. 

Tom attended Holy Cross Catholic School grades 1 to 8 and graduated from East Bernard High School in 1965. The 65-66 school year Tom attended Wharton County Junior College. Tom volunteered for the draft and was enlisted in the United States Army on June 22, 1966. Tom was proud of going through Airborne training successfully as it was the most exciting, demanding experience. He was proudest of being assigned to the famous 101st Airborne Division and being a part of the Screaming Eagles. When Tom landed in Vietnam he was a kind, sensitive and humorous soul. But during his stay many things happened that challenged everything that he had been taught morally and religiously making him into a ghost soldier. Tom received an Honorable Discharge after his two-year assignment was up on June 11, 1968. Tom was able to lead a normal life for a number of years. With his take charge attitude and aggressive energy, Tom held many different jobs – was a roughneck in the oil field, a boat builder in California, and a successful farmer in East Bernard, but Vietnam was never far from his mind. Although he could work long days, at night Tom begin drinking heavily to escape his nightmares of Vietnam. 

Maintaining this kind of life inevitably became overwhelming. Within 10 years, Tom’s body could not take the stress of the long farming days and the endless sleepless nights, so he broke both physically and mentally. He was forced to seek help from the experts on post-war trauma at the VA Hospital in Houston. There he found AA and a very supportive group of men mirroring his condition. He was treated by skilled doctors with appropriate medication both physically and mentally. Consequently, he was able to heal his body very quickly once superior counseling enabled him to abstain from alcohol. Mentally, over many years Tom’s mind was able to rationalize his experiences in Vietnam. Once Tom realized he was making progress toward his goal of living a fuller life, he became a dedicated member of AA. Of all the things done in AA meetings, Tom most appreciated and responded to the reward coins and every day he recited the Serenity Prayer many times. He attended regularly and in fact attended a meeting in the last week of life.

Another important group that supported Tom in his life was the East Bernard American Legion Post 226 which he has been a member for many years. Tom became a dedicated member who contributed by assuming many duties: tended the bar, worked fund raisers, secured the parking lot, served as a pall bearer, called members to secure honor guards for funerals and  held the office of firing squad commander. 

When Tom was diagnosed with severe PTSD in 1984, it became impossible for him to hold a permanent job. In 1990, Julius Hlavinka hired Tom for part-time work. This was the perfect job for Tom. When Julius got sick in July of 1995, Tom’s job description increased in importance – driver and assistant. Robert Hlavinka took over for his dad in January 1996, and Robert continued employing Tom until his death with the same consideration Julius had for Tom. The Kucera family has always been thankful for the kindness, patience and wonderful friendship that was bestowed on our family by Julius and Robert Hlavinka.  

Tom always enjoyed the family get-togethers at the farm especially with nieces and nephews and their children. His hobbies were gardening, especially tending his citrus trees, helping his brother plant and harvest organic potatoes at Dr. Erickson’s farm in Boling for six years, spring and fall. He also enjoyed driving around East Bernard visiting with people at Lupe’s Restaurant, Vincek’s Smokehouse and Lionell’s Radiator Shop. Tom looked forward to riding with Larry Tichacek to Matagorda and Rockport. Although Tom enjoyed being around the many special people in his life, he loved his dog, Odie, above all else who was his constant companion. 

Many thanks go to Lupe at Lupe’s Restaurant where Tom was always treated like a king and reveled in hot sauce and iced tea. Also, thanks to Lionell for his time, patience and rubber bands to keep Tom’s old vehicles running.  

Special thanks go to David Caldwell, counselor at the Vet Center in Houston and the many doctors at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center who treated Tom. 

Tom was preceded in death by his parents Peter Joseph and Celestine Victoria Kucera, and his sister Evelyn Marie Kucera. Tom is survived by his siblings Pete Kucera (Beth), Victor Kucera (Kathy), Jerome Kucera, Theresa Kettler (Kenneth), and Mary Ann Wade (Zan). Tom’s nephews and nieces are: Joe Kucera (Gina), Mary Frances Kucera, Kaye Kucera, Jeff Kettler (Lana), Judy Early (Brook), Evelyn Mamerow (Donald, Bubba), Zan Wade (Brianna) Annie Taylor (Shawn). Great nieces and nephews are Meghan Kucera, Wyatt Kettler, Bryce Early, Trey Mamerow, Avery Mamerow, Rose Taylor, Damon Taylor, Devin Taylor, Dillion Taylor and Derek Wade. 

All services will be held on Friday, Feb. 21, at Holy Cross Catholic Church in East Bernard. Schedule to be followed: Visitation 8 a.m.; Eulogy 9:15; Rosary 9:30; Mass 10; Interment at Holy Cross Cemetery – after Mass. 

Pallbearers will be Brook Early, Jeff Kettler, Joe Kucera, Donald {Bubba) Mamerow, Shawn Taylor, and Zan Wade. 

Honorary pallbearers are nieces Judy Early, Lana Kettler, Gina Kucera, Mary Frances Kucera, Kaye Kucera, Evelyn Mamerow, Annie Taylor and Brianna Wade. Also, Charles Boettcher, Robert Hlavinka, Larry Tichacek, Mildred Zahradnik, Lionell and Lupe.

Arrangements are under the direction of Wharton Funeral Home.                               

Condolences and memorials can be shared online at whartonfuneralhome.com  

Donations/memorials may be made to East Bernard American Legion Post 226 Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 53, East Bernard, 77435 or to a charity of your choice.

 

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