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In Memoriam – Thomas Kielty Uldrich

Thomas Kielty Uldrich
Brother of Jack Uldrich ’82

Thomas Kielty Uldrich of Minneapolis has lost one of its originals. Thomas was born, bred, and drew his last breath in the town that did its best to love him back. After attending Clara Barton, St. Thomas the Apostle, Southwest High School, and Brown Institute, he became a regular fixture at Lake Harriet where, for 20-plus summers, he managed the Refectory and navigated the Queen of the Lakes steamboat while simultaneously teaching a generation of Southwest Minneapolis kids the rigors of the real world and how to make a near-perfect popcorn.

In between other jobs, including working at the Open Eye Theatre and a long stint at Bob’s Java Hut where he dispensed caffeine and convivial conversation in equal measures, Tom could be found strolling Uptown in his Husker Du emblazoned leather jacket, rollerblading the lakes in his tiger-striped skates, tagging a wall by the Walker with an eye-catching graffiti depiction of Wilma Flintstone or riding a city bus while reading a paperback classic written by the likes of Camus, Tolstoy, Salinger or Nabokov.

Tom’s real passions, however, were family, friends, and art. In an age before selfies, he cataloged his coolness with countless photo booth polaroids. Later, he introduced his nieces, nephews, as well as the children of many of his friends to this old-school pleasure while also capturing in time just a tiny sliver of the love in which he held them. For his family and friends, he was equally generous. Never was he too busy to create a hand-crafted card, pen a heart-filled letter, or pull from his soul an exquisite piece of art – be it a stained-glass Madonna lightbox, an ironing board painted with the Lady of Guadalupe or a backgammon set patinaed with vintage packages of classic cigarettes, including his favorite – no filter Camels.

In the end, Tom basked in the rich and loving connection of family, friends and AA companions but those joys also rode shotgun with his other lifelong companions of mental illness and addiction. He will be missed by all and Minneapolis – the city he called home – will glow a little dimmer in his absence.

Tom was preceded in death by his father, John Uldrich, and is survived by his loving mother, Mary Kaye; his siblings Nan Zosel (Scott), Jack Uldrich (Cindy), Ben, and Catherine Glynn (Jeremy); his beloved nieces, Terra, Aurora and Meghan and his only nephew Sean.

A memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m., December 22, 2023 at the Open Eye Theatre, 506 E.24th Street, Minneapolis. A reception will follow. Memorials can be sent to the Vail Place.