The art of the obituary: the grave digger

Thomas D. Donnelly, of Geneva, Minn., died on Tuesday. But he was known by a different name -- "Digger." He dug graves. He was also Tom Tom the Leprechaun, the mascot of the Minnesota RollerGirls.

Here's his obituary.

Thomas Desmond Donnelly IV, Geneva, Minnesota died October 5, 2015. Tom was born on October 15, 1951 on an island just east of Ireland to Thomas and Elizabeth Donnelly.

He spent his childhood in England, Okinawa, Texas and graduated from Dugway High School in Utah where he was on the varsity teams football, basketball and golf. He studied macrobiotic cooking in Boston where he met his future and former wife Sheila O'Leary. They were married in Donegal, Ireland in 1975. They later moved to the Blooming Prairie area where they farmed organically with draft horses raising cattle, sheep and chickens.

Tom, or Digger, as he was affectionately known, dug graves to the top of his head at thirteen different cemeteries.

He was beloved by his many friends and could often be found manning the jukebox at the Geneva Bar, opening the ceremonial Guinness to start the weekend at Harmony Park as the Mayor, or serving as a mascot for the Minnesota RollerGirls as Tom Tom the Leprechaun.

He was quick witted, one of his favorite retorts to those who asked if he dug graves by hand, was no, he used a shovel. He finished the crossword puzzle daily and loved to bird watch.

He is survived by his six children, Daniel and his wife Mary (O'Connor), Austin, MN, Mary Donnelly and Nathan Matuska, Minneapolis, MN, Bridget Donnelly and her husband Greg Bandsma, Minneapolis, MN, Molly Donnelly and Chris Constantini, Minneapolis, MN Theresa Donnelly and her husband Orion Henningsgaard, Minneapolis, MN and Timmy Donnelly, Arcata, CA. Grandchildren, Tommy, Micah, Regan, Hazel, Gwen, and North. Brothers, Michael, Kevin, and Patrick Donnelly, Special thanks to his dear friends Heidi and Victor Price, Jay Sullivan and Amie Kestner Bartlett, and his long time digging partner Jeffrey Carlson.

He was preceded in death by his parents, and a brother Jerry.

Tom was small in stature but large in heart.

FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS: On Sunday October 11th, the family would like to invite all to celebrate his life with a burial at St. Mary's Cemetery, in rural Geneva, Minnesota (860th Ave Blooming Prairie) at 2 PM followed by food and merriment at Harmony Park from 3-7 PM. Wear green, Tom's favorite color, and come prepared to toast Tom.

Condolences can be sent to 28515 890th Ave Austin, MN 55912.

(h/t: Michael Wells)

From the archive: Motorcycles, scrambled eggs, and the ways we live forever (NewsCut)

Create a More Connected Minnesota

MPR News is your trusted resource for the news you need. With your support, MPR News brings accessible, courageous journalism and authentic conversation to everyone - free of paywalls and barriers. Your gift makes a difference.