He was born on July 17, 1951 in Chicago to Rose Boland Filter and Patrick Stephen Filter. He is survived by his wife of 25 years, Judith Filter; siblings Patrick Filter, Maureen Filter Nolan (Thomas), John Filter (Janet), Siobhan Conroy, and Kevin Filter; Judie’s siblings; dear friends Pete Hughesdon and Matt Perlow; and many nieces, nephews, and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, sister Rosemary Larkin (survived by James), and brother Domingo Trujillo (survived by Amanda).
Tom began his art career with a black crayon at the age of four. Later in life, he managed the Missouri summer with bright Chuck Taylors and sweat-dabbing bandanas. His deep hug and squinting laugh brought warmth to Northern winters.
Tom graduated from Mount Carmel High School on Chicago’s South Side in 1969, afterward moving to St. Paul where he attended the University of St. Thomas and the University of Minnesota. His time in St. Paul was marked by lasting friendships and a series of jobs, including a stint in the North Star Steel Mill. In 1979, Tom moved back to Chicago where he spent seven years with the Cook County Sherriff’s Office, in the jail, in gang intelligence, and as an addiction counselor.
He moved to St. Louis on a whim in 1988. He was a manager for the US Census Bureau and later the Missouri Division of Youth Services, concluding his career with the Saint Louis Public Schools. It was in St. Louis that Tom met and married Judie, his friend, partner, and the love of his life.
Tom’s art brought wild life to paper, clay, wood, and any medium that caught his eye. The stylized jack-o-lanterns and iconic Christmas card collages remained on porches and refrigerator doors for far longer than convention might permit. His ceramic monsters betrayed a playful if smirking nature. His knot-ridden walking sticks remind us of the great untapped beauty lurking in the imperfect.
Tom Filter lived loudly. He would hold court at his local pub, regaling friends with autobiographical half-truths and worrisome whole-truths. So a celebration of life will take place there—the Schlafly Tap Room at 2100 Locust Street—from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 17, what would have been Tom’s 67th birthday.
Memorial contributions may be made to Belize 2020, c/o The Jesuits, 4511 West Pine Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108. His family wishes to extend special thanks to the medical and professional staffs at Saint Louis University Hospital.