Family & Friends wil Gather
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
American Legion Post #27
920 Monroe Avenue
South Milwaukee, WI 53172
Memorials can be directed to the attention of Post Commander Raymond Grabowski.
Life Story / Obituary
Hard-working, humble, and kind, Thomas Mliner lived his life solidly centered on his love for his family and friends. A man of deep integrity and generosity, Tom consciously chose to embrace each day as an opportunity to be of service to others. Whether working, helping his community members, or sharing time with family and friends, Tom lived each moment fully. Revered by many, Tom was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, and friend, who will long be remembered and ever so missed.
Despite the obvious gloom of the Great Depression, 1935 gave birth to many celebrated firsts. While reeling in the heartache of Black Sunday, our nation’s 20.1% unemployment rate and the gathering war clouds as Germany passed the Nuremberg laws, Americans found much hope in Amelia Earhart’s’ first solo Pacific flight, the inventions of parking meters, fluorescent tubes for light, and the game of Monopoly, as well as the first Orange Bowl, first Pacific Airmail delivery, and the first Technicolor film; Mickey Mouse. Locally, Lazar and Marija Mlinar (nee Dragojevic) held much hope for the future as they celebrated the birth of their son Thomas on March 13, in the Town of Lake, Wisconsin, currently known as Cudahy.
The youngest of seven Mlinar children born to Lazar and Marija Mlinar (nee Dragojevic), Tom grew up in a home that was proud of their Serbian heritage and rich in tradition. While his father farmed and worked at Wisconsin Electric Company for 43 years, his mother tended to the home. Along with his brothers, Nikola, Alex, George, Vladimir, and Emil, and his sister, Dorothy, Tom grew up learning to speak Serbian well before he spoke English. Like most farm kids, Tom began contributing to the family at a young age, responsibly completing his daily chores. While he received his fair share of spankings, especially when he broke something in the barn, he honed an excellent work ethic that would serve him for the rest of his life.
Tom and his siblings walked everywhere, including to school. He enjoyed playing football and fishing, and loved toy cars, bicycles, and automobiles. Tom attended area schools and enjoyed playing football, his high school girlfriends, fishing trips, vacations, and time spent at the cabin in Crivitz, Wisconsin, hunting deer, pheasant, and duck.
After graduating from Cudahy High School with the class of 1953, like many young men at the time, Tom was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1954. During his two years in the Army, Tom served in the Signal Corps and was stationed in Alaska.
Shortly after returning home from his time in the service, Tom had the good fortune of meeting the love of his life, Donna Talaber. While on dates at a local tavern with other people, Tom and Donna caught one another’s eyes. Instantly smitten, they began dating soon after. It wasn’t long before they were deeply in love and setting their hearts on creating a future together. On October 20, 1956, at St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the happy couple exchanged their vows and officially began their 59-year adventure.
The newlyweds settled into a home in St. Francis. Tom worked his entire career for Wisconsin Electrical Power Company, while Donna worked for Northwestern Mutual Insurance Company. In time, they were blessed to welcome three children to their family. With Mike, Christine, and Timothy as the centers of their lives, Tom and Donna worked to provide a loving and supportive home for their children. While Tom continued to work for the electrical company, once children arrived, Donna left the workforce to focus her attention on being a wife, mother, and homemaker.
The family enjoyed camping and vacationing every summer to Kentucky and Crivitz, Wisconsin. Holidays were special times, especially Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, when the family would gather for the day, enjoying the delicious food Donna would so lovingly make and one another’s good company. These special occasions became even more wonderful as their family grew to include spouses and grandchildren.
A proud Veteran, Tom was an active member of the American Legion Post #27. Tom continued to enjoy sports throughout his life, including football, baseball, and weekly trap shooting. His love of cars frequently inspired attending races and car shows, and going out to breakfast with friends was a tradition he always looked forward to. Tom’s son, Mike, introduced him to photography, which quickly became a new hobby; he loved taking pictures. In his leisure time, he also enjoyed watching old Westerns; Bonanza, Gun Smoke, The Rifleman, and The Lone Ranger were some of his favorites.
In 1996, the Mlinar family faced immeasurable loss when daughter Christine died unexpectedly at the young age of 34. Deeply rooted in their love for one another, the family faced their sorrow together, celebrating Christine’s life and softening their sadness in the many ways they missed her. In the fall of 2014, the family rallied together again when Donna was diagnosed with lung cancer. With signature love and support, they ensured her wishes to celebrate the holidays together. In January of 2015, Donna died in the comforts of her family’s excellent care.
Clearly, it is difficult to imagine life in the absence of Tom’s steadfast presence. May we find comfort in knowing he has been reunited with his beloved and his daughter, Donna, and in the honor of carrying his legacy forward.
Thomas Mlinar, age 85 years, passed away peacefully in his sleep on November 14, 2020. Preceded in death by his beloved wife Donna (nee Talaber). Cherished father of Michael (Jill) Mlinar, the late Christine (Mark) Burckhard, and Timothy (Kelly) Mlinar. Loving Grandfather of James Tirrell, Samantha Mlinar, Nathaniel (Erin) Burckhard, Kimberly (Marc) Tranum, Chris Mlinar, Jon Mlinar, Sarah Mlinar, and Ben Mlinar, Great-Grandfather of Victoria, Lynette and Mylan Burckhard and Bryanna and Ty Tranum. Further survived by other relatives and friends.
Family and friends will gather Friday, December 4, 2020, at Parkway Apostolic Church 10940 S. Nicholson Road Oak Creek, WI, from 10:00 AM until the time of the Memorial Service at 11:00 AM. Private inurnment at Southern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers memorials to American Legion Post #27.