Joe Tomba, aged 75 passed away due to complications from Alzheimer’s at his daughter
Cassie’s home on March 6th, 2021 with his daughters, grandchildren and son-in-law
surrounding him in love. He was a lifelong scholar and teacher, in work and in life.
His intelligence and love of books were surpassed only by his fierce love of his family
and his perfect hugs.
Born on April 14th, 1945 to Joseph and Edith Tomba, Joe was a dedicated and loving son.
A graduate of Borromeo High School and College, he got his teaching certification at
John Carroll University then went on to get his M.A. at Cleveland State University.
He taught at St Peter’s High School in Cleveland for several years before starting an
almost 40 year career teaching English at Lake Catholic High School in Mentor.
Joe is preceded in death by the love his life, wife of 48 years, Debbie, who passed away just months prior.
Married in 1972 in Bellefontaine, Joe and Debbie were a couple who inspired others. They had fun together
no matter what they did and continued to laugh together until the very end. Despite an aversion to flying,
Joe and Debbie loved traveling and saw much of the United States together. They built Christmas traditions
for their kids that have been carried on for the next generation and started a tradition of Forced Family Fun,
that eventually was no longer forced. Joe was the most devoted Husband who loved no one’s company
as much as Deb’s whether it was the hours they spent on the phone while they dated or the time she spent reading
to him when he could no longer do it himself.
He is survived by his devoted daughters Abbie Tomba, Cassie (Rob) Pryor and Amanda Tomba. He was a builder of forts,
maker of sun tea, reader of Jabez Dawes, buyer of books, teller of stories, and creator of new games. His love and support
for them was unwavering and he never passed up an opportunity to tell them how proud he was. His jokes were a source
of laughter and groans, usually at the same time and his belief that you never talked down to children taught his daughters
from the earliest age that their opinion was important, their voice mattered and they could learn anything. His actions modeled
what a husband should be and what true partnership in a marriage was.
As “Papa” to Olivia, Luke and Ethan McConville he loved playing with blocks, reading stories, looking for interesting shells,
rocks and unusual fruits. He was a “baby whisperer” who could manage to put any baby to sleep and then used it as an excuse
for his own nap. He was happy to follow wherever they led and take as much time as possible to look at anything they were
interested in be it a stick or a colony of ants. He never turned down a request to be held or a water gun fight and encouraged their creativity
and supported every passion of theirs.
A devoted and loving older brother, he is survived by his sister Mary Loretta Olack and brother Tim and sister-in-law Gail.
He cherished the time he spent with them and the laughter they shared throughout their lives.
He is also survived by in-laws Bob (Sharon) Holderman, Sandy Hodges, Roxanne (John) Tackett, and Colleen Ray, and many
nieces and nephews and many life longs friends from the Seminary, and the friends he inherited from Debbie’s nursing school days.
His hobbies included fishing, napping, and reading.
As an educator he influenced thousands of teens over a 40-year career. Even if they didn’t share his enthusiasm for works
of Chaucer, Milton or Melville he instilled a love of learning, literature and writing in many. He taught his students that
words mattered, being curious was important and success had nothing to do with grades. He wasn’t afraid to tackle tough
subjects or speak up for his students or colleagues.
He was honored to be inducted into the Lake Catholic Hall of Excellence in 1997 and that upon his retirement in
2010 a scholarship was established in his name. He was also delighted to return to Lake for years to play Santa
at the annual Broadmoor Christmas Party.
The Tomba family would like to thank the staff and residents at The Enclave of Newell Creek’s memory care for taking
such good care of their Father/Papa/Brother etc. His last few months there were filled with new friends and compassionate care.
Joe and his family were dedicated to finding a cure for Alzheimer’s after seeing the effects it had on him and his family.
In lieu of flowers they ask for donations to be made to the Alzheimer’s Association. A celebration of life will be held at a later date.