« Back to Obituaries

Thomas E. Lilly

Thomas E. Lilly

January 27, 2018

Thomas E. Lilly, age 84, of Eau Claire passed away unexpectedly on Saturday, January 27, 2018, at the Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire.

Tom was born in Saint Paul, MN on September 10, 1933, to Ralph and Elizabeth Lilly.  He grew up in St. Paul and attended the University of Minnesota.  He left the University of Minnesota to enlist in the U.S. Army.  While stationed in Germany, he developed a love for art and travel.  He returned to Saint Paul and married Barbara Ronzani, his devoted wife of 53 years, on August 6, 1960.  He enrolled at Northern Illinois University and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Art History.   He taught Art History at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire from 1967 to 1996.  While teaching, he earned a Master’s degree in Art History from the University of Illinois-Chicago.  Together, Barb and Tom were loving parents to their children: Catherine, Michael, and Timothy.

Papa Tom adored his three grandchildren: Olivia, Jack, and Cecilia.  He had a passion for traveling with his wife and was genuinely interested in everyone he met.  A deeply spiritual person, he enjoyed attending church and studying the Bible.  He loved searching for new and tasty recipes, cooking, eating good food, drinking good beer and wine, chocolates, cheese, and finding a bargain.  Friday night was always the highlight of his week because it was pizza and movie night with his best pal and daughter, Kate.  Tom could be kind of crusty and enjoyed giving people a hard time, but he only gave you a hard time if he liked you.  BOY!  He must have liked a lot of people!  Yet, most people seemed to enjoy his unique personality and sense of humor.  He was truly one-of-a-kind and a real softy at heart…gentle, kind, patient, and thoughtful.   

Tom is survived by his daughter, Catherine of Eau Claire; son, Michael (Jill) of Madison (grandchildren, Olivia and Jack); and son, Timothy (Sarah) of Eau Claire (granddaughter, Cecilia).

Visitation will take place on Saturday, February 3, 2018, from 9 – 11 a.m. at the Newman Parish at the Ecumenical Religious Center, 110 Garfield Avenue, Eau Claire, WI 54701.  Memorial Mass of Christian burial will take place at 11 a.m.  at the Newman Parish following the visitation.  Father Dan Oudenhoven and Father Tom Krieg will officiate. Please park in the Hibbard Parking Lot.  Inurnment will take place a later date in the Lakeview Cemetery in Eau Claire.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Foundation for the Thomas and Barbara Lilly Art Study Abroad Scholarship.  This scholarship is in honor of the outstanding art leadership skills of Professor Thomas Lilly, who took hundreds of UW-Eau Claire students abroad on art tours.  Students loved his Art History classes and traveling with him.

Friends and family may offer condolences online at www.hulkefamilyfh.com.  Hulke Family Funeral Home & Cremation Services is assisting the family with the arrangements.


Memorial visitation will take place Saturday, February 3, 2018 at the Newman Parish at the Ecumenical Religious Center, 110 Garfield Avenue, Eau Claire, WI 54701 from 9 am until the time of service.


Memorial service will take place at 11 am on Saturday, February 3, 2018 at the Newman Parish at the Ecumenical Religious Center in Eau Claire with Father Dan Oudenhoven and Father Tom Krieg officiating.