Tom Warner
Tom Warner
I remember meeting Noblesville Ledger sports journalist Tom Warner when I worked at the newspaper, my first job out of college in 1986.
He always had a grin on his face and a twinkle in his eyes that made you want to smile when you saw him.
There was something about him that was so special. He didn’t work there very long after I arrived. A couple of years later, he married his high school sweetheart. And they had four kids. The oldest is now 29. And the youngest is 14, my daughter’s age.
I was saddened to learn that earlier this week he had died unexpectedly at age 56.
I wondered what happened. Then, I read a GoFundMe.com notice about a “Cicero family seriously injured, father killed … after a drunk driver slammed into their vehicle”
My heart sank.
Tom Warner and his wife, Wendy, and their daughter, Abby, and other teens in their Cicero Christian Church youth group, were out on Wednesday, Dec. 9, collecting food for the local Angel Tree. They decided to take the kids to see a movie as a reward, when an oncoming vehicle collided with their vehicle.
“I was driving, Tom was in the passenger seat, and there were five teens, including my daughter, in the car,” Wendy told me on Friday when I communicated with her over Facebook messenger.
Tom Warner and another teen were taken to St. Vincent Hospital on 86th Street, where Tom succumbed to his injuries and lost his life a few hours later.
The head-on two-vehicle crash that occurred at about 6 p.m. Dec. 9 -- at 274th and Indiana 19 in Arcadia, in northern Hamilton County -- is still under investigation, Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department public information officer Ryan McClain said on Friday. The other driver was a middle-aged male, a Hamilton County resident, and his name hasn’t been released, awaiting toxicology reports.
A GoFundMe.com fundraising drive, organized by Kayla Danforth, has been set up to raise money for expenses. As of Friday, $29,600 had been donated so far by more than 200 donors, with the fund drive shared by more than 1,400 people. All contributions will be given to the family for funeral costs, medical bills, and life expenses.
His wife, Wendy, in the fund drive notice, said, “I know that Heaven gained a mighty warrior. I close my eyes and see God giving Tom his many crowns and then watch him turn around and lay them at the feet of Jesus. And I’m sure he got a ‘job well done my good and faithful servant.’”
Warner was loved by many. He was described as “humble,” “devoted,” and one who “always put others first.” He “made time for people who needed him even when he didn’t have the time to give.”
Warner’s son, Stephen, opened an hour-long private Celebration of Life with family. “God, we thank you today for my dad. We thank you for the time we got to know him. We thank you for putting him in our lives,” he said, as he tried to hold back the tears.
It was natural for family and friends to feel shocked, sad, lost and angry.
Stephen said, “My dad was taken from us too soon. What happened to him wasn’t right. Wasn’t fair. And it should never happen to anyone. We are all absolutely heartbroken today.”
Stephen, 29, the eldest of four siblings who also included Mindy, 26, Lily, 22, and Abby, 14, he remembered helping his dad build things, helping fix a car, mow the lawn, clean the pool. He remembers his dad as a coach, friend, role model, and “an example of how I want to lead my life,” Stephen said.
Stephen remembers his dad being strict, and being tender and loving. “...I saw my dad love my mom and my sisters fiercely ... I saw my dad show me exactly what it looks like to truly love my wife. He did that with the way he treated my mom and my sisters … I saw my dad give his life to Jesus Christ … that is the most important thing that my dad ever did.” Tom devoted himself to the Lord about 20 years ago.
Tom Warner, who had a great sense of humor, was sometimes a comedian and often made his family laugh. But he was also serious and “knew at least a little bit about everything. He could figure out how to do anything ….”
“I think my son (Stephen) summed up who Tom was in the Celebration of life,” said Wendy, in a communication with me on Friday morning.
Warner was a mentor to many. He coached his kids in baseball, softball, basketball and soccer. He was president and a longtime board member of Hamilton Heights Amateur Sports Association. He served the Town of Cicero on the Cicero Economic Development Committee and Cicero/Jackson Township Board of Zoning Appeals.
Besides working at the Ledger, Tom Warner also worked at the Greenfield Daily Reporter, where I was once an intern; and at the Daily Journal, in the city where I attended Franklin College. He later went into the insurance business (likely to make a better living for his family) and spent his last four years at Camico Insurance as a national sales manager.
Since he left the Ledger many years ago, I’ve only talked to him a few times, during the Cicero July 4 festival and also when he was a patron at The Belfry Theatre being seated for a show, for which I was volunteering at the door. More recently, we saw him regularly in 2019 at the weekly Hamilton County 4-H Dog Obedience classes and 4-H Fair competitions, in which my daughter was also in class with his daughter, Abby.
When I shared the news with Dawn Moos, Dog Project Leader of 34 years, she was saddened. “They are a wonderful family,” she said. “Tom always helped with set up and tear down,” during Dog Obedience classes and competitions.
I also shared with my former Ledger coworkers, who were also saddened. Former sports writers Chuck Godby and Steve Zook said Warner was “such a good guy.”
Everybody who knew Warner had kind words to say about him.
A candlelight celebration open to the community will be at 5 p.m. today (Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020) at Cicero Christian Church, where he was in the Eldership Apprentice Program. People are asked to arrive in the church parking lot between 4 p.m. and 4:45 p.m.
We will all miss you, Tom Warner.

-Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.