Thomas Andrew Brodhecker of Hampton Township, N.J., died Friday, May 22, 2020, in Key Largo, Fla. He was 86.
Tom was born in Seymour, Indiana, in 1934 and raised in Brownstown, Indiana. He received a B.S. in business marketing and journalism from Indiana University and was commissioned into the Air Force as a second lieutenant through the ROTC program in 1957. After meeting his wife, Jane (née Andorfer), he entered the U.S. Air Force, starting a family along the way.
He trained and earned the rating of B-52 command pilot, which prepared him to become a commercial pilot for Pan American Airways — a career that lasted until the 1990s. During his career, he continued to work for the military, attaining the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force and New Jersey National Guard.
Tom and Jane purchased their Hampton Township farm in 1969 to raise their six children. The farm began as grain, hay, sheep, and cattle operation and has continued to grow in size and diversity, to include selling livestock feed, as well as a full range of farm supplies and machinery. Tom was especially involved with the daily operations of the farm alongside his son, Phil, and grandson, Tommy. For over 50 years, he provided guidance and direction on animals, farming, and crop growing to members of the local and state communities. He always enjoyed his time talking with and helping customers and friends that stopped by the farm. He successfully passed on his knowledge and love of farming to future generations.
Tom was an active leader in New Jersey agriculture. He served on numerous committees and boards that include, Sussex County and New Jersey State Agricultural Board, New Jersey Farm Bureau, State and Regional 4-H Leaders Forum Planning Committees. He was as an officer and a regular delegate to the N.J. State Agricultural Convention.
In 2019, Tom received the Gold Medallion Award with wife, Jane, from the New Jersey Agricultural Society for their lifetime devotion and achievements within the state’s agricultural industry. He was a director for the Sussex County Farm and Horse Show initiating the 4-H Market Animal Sale. He was instrumental with the Building and Grounds Committee building the livestock barns and arena.
Tom joined the Newton Rotary Club in 1982. He was a Paul Harris Fellow and a Prestigious Major Donor. He was also on the Founding Committee for the Rotary Food Booth, the major fundraiser for Newton Rotary, at the Sussex County Farm and Horse Show.
He is survived by his loving wife of 63 years, Jane; children, Stephen Brodhecker and wife, Debbie, of Branchville, N.J., and son-in-law, Mark Leigh of Bridgeton, N.J., Donald Brodhecker and fiancé, Susan Pederson, of Budd Lake, N.J., Mary Kelley and husband, Glenn, of Bridgewater, N.J., and Phillip Brodhecker of Hampton Township; grandchildren, Autumn Brodhecker and daughter, Emilia, Christopher Brodhecker and wife, Sarah Ordway, Jennifer Moore and husband, Charles, Heather Leigh and fiancé, Em Ballard, and their son, Owen, John Leigh, Cassandra, Julianna, Samantha, and Jeffrey Brodhecker, Thomas and Dana Brodhecker, Elaine Kelley, and Lauren Mangold and husband, Evan.
Tom was predeceased in death by his son, Michael Brodhecker; and daughter, Patricia Leigh.
Tom will always be a large and loving presence in many people’s lives.
A celebration of Tom’s life will be held at a later date. Memorial donations in lieu of flowers may be made to the Hampton Township Fire Department, P.O. Box 646, Augusta, NJ 07822; Sussex Co. 4-H Foundation Scholarship, 1 Spring St, Newton, NJ 07860; Newton Rotary, 473 Ridge Rd, Newton, NJ 07860; or Manna House, 54 High St., Newton, NJ 07860.
Arrangements were by Smith-McCracken Funeral Home, Newton, N.J.