Hurleyville resident, Thomas A. “Poppy” Vanidestine, 80, went peacefully to be with Jesus after a long battle with cancer in his sleep on the morning of October 24, 2023. His wife was at his side.
He was born to James T. and Mary (Spencer) Vanidestine on June 11, 1943. Tom graduated from Bangor High School June of 1962. He played basketball and ran cross country. His favorite hobbies were deer hunting and fishing. He followed his father’s footsteps into a career in harness horse training, racing, and blacksmithing. He drove in his first race while in his sophomore year of high school. He successfully raced at county fairs throughout the state of Maine. His early local success in the sport afforded him the opportunity to race at larger tracks in New York. He became a popular driver at Saratoga Raceway. He eventually raced up and down the east coast. He settled in Scarborough, Maine in 1985. Tom was well respected and known in the harness horse community from Maine to Florida. He loved to entertain the crowd and would twirl his whip while he crossed the finish line, throwing it to fans after a win. He retired early from racing due to injury and went on to serve as a skilled maintenance worker at Scarborough High School. He excelled in this position as he was a man who enjoyed constant physical activity and loved to fix things. With his large beard, height, and friendly personality he became a favorite character among the staff and students. He was nicknamed “Zeke” and loved to tell jokes and chat with the students.
Tom was a lively story teller and loved to share his many adventures with a willing audience. He never met a stranger and had a knack for humor. It gave him great joy to make people laugh. We will miss his many stories about hunting, horses, and the adventures he had throughout his life.
His enjoyment of the outdoors continued throughout his life. He would take long walks with his dog and continued to be an avid deer hunter. In his later years he became an avid gardener and baker. The garden was well-tended and beautiful. People would often stop and ask for advice on how to grow things. He loved sharing his gardening knowledge, gifting his home-grown vegetables, baked bread, and apple pies with friends and family. Tom enjoyed going to church and loved taking part in potluck dinners. He played Santa Claus for several years and let the kids pull on his beard to prove it was real. He loved to play with his grandchildren and showered them with affection. He was a wonderful “Poppy”.
We were fortunate to have him as a husband, father, brother, grandfather, and friend. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him. We are thankful for the support we received and continue to be blessed by our church family, neighbors, and friends during this difficult time.
He is survived by the love of his life and wife of 47 years, Honey (Stevens); four daughters, Tomalyn and husband, Michael Manofsky, of Atlantic Beach, Florida, Denise Vanidestine of Glen Falls, New York, with his first wife, Suzanne (Dostle); Cristina and husband, Frank Bettencourt, of Flower Mound, Texas, and Tonya Vanidestine of Hurleyville, New York; his brother James and his wife, Doris, of West Chester, Pennsylvania; his sister-in-law, Andrea Vanidestine, of Glenburn, Maine; 12 grandchildren, and 6 great grandchildren.
He is predeceased by his parents and his brother, Daniel J. Vanidestine, of Glenburn, Me.
Tom’s celebration of life will be held with breakfast at the MSBF Ministry church in Liberty, New York on December 10, 2023, at 9 am followed by a service in his honor at 10:00 am.
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