Farming Rural 21

Thomas "Tom" L. Balisle

September 2, 1928 ~ September 28, 2021 (age 93)


Madison - Tom L. Balisle, 93, died on Tuesday, September 28, 2021, at Oakwood Prairie Ridge in Madison WI with his son by his side. He was born September 2, 1928, in a traveling timber town of Clebit, in Alikchi (Medicine Man in Choctaw), Oklahoma to David Preston Balisle and Nora Mae (Nash) Balisle.

He lived a life of travel for work, moving his family though Texas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, South Carolina, Missouri, and Wisconsin, as he rose in Allis Chalmers from a farm equipment parts manager to the head of the farm equipment division for the southern half of the United States and California. After thirty years, he retired to Tucson, Arizona where he could be near his youngest daughter’s family and enjoy his beloved senior tennis circuit team year-round.

He started life in a world that no longer exists, where you had to find, make, grow, or invent anything you wanted or needed and then share it with others. His family captured only a fraction of his stories from his early life, and he finally wrote a few more for his family to treasure. At age 89, his love of family and need for assistance pried him loose from Arizona to live in Madison near his son Mike Balisle, and his life partner Candy Page, and his daughter, Linda Balisle.  His last conversation was with his youngest daughter Nita Kelly Balisle Goodrich, who he told, “We’re going to get this done.” He died 24 hours later. He lived by this motto, “Get her done,” to the great benefit of his family.

In 2017, his granddaughter Jenny Balisle and son Mike took him on a road trip to his birthplace.  During a visit at the Forest Heritage Center Museum, he viewed “The People of the Forest” exhibition which highlighted the history of local traveling timber towns. When he walked into the museum, lined with photographs of the local traveling timber communities, Tom was able to name most of the people in the photos.  The happily surprised museum staff gave him “The Traveling Timber Towns ” book which had photos of himself and family. Museum staff arranged for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma to document Tom’s oral history.  Highlights from this interview can be seen on the Chahta Stories YouTube:

Tom is survived by his children Mike (Candy Page), Linda, and Kelly (David), four grandchildren Jenny (Chris Holmes), Sam Haskin (Lee), Claire Goodrich and Bo Goodrich, and great-grandson Timothy Haskin. His daughter in law Candy was his special angel these past four years, and his son in law David Goodrich his regular companion for the previous 15 years.

Tom enjoyed the loyalty and devotion of his family and his friends.

He was predeceased by his parents, all his siblings, Preston Balisle, Margaret Henson, Delbert Balisle, Tony Balisle and Faye Wingfield, and his former wife Juanita Gibbens.

There will be a family only service in Oklahoma and Colorado in the spring. For those who wish to honor him, contributions may be made to the Madison Boys and Girls Club, the International Crane Foundation, or any charity which provides direct services to those in need.

The family thanks Dr. Farah Khan, and  Unity Point Nurse Coordinator, Jennifer Vohs who honored dad’s tremendous vitality and drive by keeping him alive as long as possible and not treating him as an old person. We also thank the staff at Oakwood Prairie Ridge, the team at Agrace Hospice and the nurses and doctors at Meriter Hospital and UW Hospitals for their care.

Dad, now that you’re freed from your body, we know you cannot keep still. May you have great adventures in the happiest of hunting grounds.

To view and sign this guestbook, please visit:


Ryan Funeral Home & Cremation Services

2418 N Sherman Ave


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Madison Boys & Girls Club
1818 W Beltline Hwy, Madison WI 53713

International Crane Foundation
E11376 Shady Lane Road, P.O. Box 447, Baraboo WI 53913
Tel: 1-608-356-9462

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