January 28, 1947 March 15, 2024

Thomas Andrew Micheletti, known for his love of the game - any game - and twinkling, mischievous brown eyes, died peacefully, surrounded by beloved family, on March 15, 2024 in the Twin Cities. He was 77.

Tom was born in Virginia, Minnesota, on January 28, 1947. He had a zest for family. He grew up in International Falls, Minnesota, as the oldest of nine siblings. His father, Americo Micheletti, was the son of Italian immigrants, Andrea and Italia Micheletti, and served in the U.S. military in World War II. His mother, Mary, was the daughter of Slovenian immigrants, Andrew and Mary Barle, and worked during the war as a registered nurse at St. Mary's Hospital at the Mayo Clinic. Tom took great pride in his heritage. He revered all four of his grandparents for enduring extreme hardship as immigrants to the Iron Range of Minnesota. His parents were his luminous north stars, working hard and sacrificing to build a life for their children, while creating a home full of love and laughter.

Tom's abiding love of the game began with a childhood filled with sports - including pick-up games involving his six brothers, with Tom suiting them up and teaching them positions as soon as they could walk. When he was eight, he read a library book called "Tommy Carries the Ball," by James and Marion Renick. It gave him a lifelong philosophy about the importance of character and perseverance, being a role model and mentor to others, and seeing the possibilities in others and lifting them up.

When Tom was 12, the family moved to Hibbing, Minnesota. He played varsity hockey and football throughout high school and was elected student body president. He was known and loved by his classmates for his big heart, humor, talent, and humility. He had a pot- stirring twinkle in his eyes that earned him the "prettiest eyes" award in his senior yearbook. Tom broke his ankle his senior year playing football. He cut the cast off himself, long before it had healed, so that he didn't miss the opening hockey game. This messed his ankle up just enough to eventually keep him out of the Vietnam War, but not so much that he couldn't keep playing.

Tom knew what he wanted in life. He submitted a single college application - to Harvard University - and played hockey for the Crimson. His courses in political science and government stoked the enduring respect for democracy that his grandfather Barle ignited in him as a child. He loved the free exchange of ideas and admired the framers of the U.S. Constitution and their wisdom about the human condition, the inevitable corrupting influence of unchecked power, the beauty of checks and balances - including the critical role of the free press - and the importance of free and fair elections that would allow a diverse nation to settle its differences peacefully. He earned a J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School.

Tom's career became another arena for his love of the game. From starting as a young lawyer in Duluth to his senior executive and lobbying days in Washington and Minnesota, he had audacious visions and inspired those around him to team up and make things happen. His Washington colleagues recount dramatic stories of Tom arriving in D.C. and quickly being recognized as the right guy to quarterback all sorts of bold energy policy legislation, one example being enacting the law that re-licensed the Hoover Dam.

Tom believed a business can only thrive if the people in its community are thriving too. He contributed his leadership to the boards of many great Minnesota organizations, including St. Mary's Hospital in Duluth, the Duluth Aquarium, Duluth Public Radio, the Minnesota Children's Museum, and the International Wolf Center. He was also president of the Duluth Economic Development Authority. He served as the long-time chairman of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. For a decade, he and his wife, Julie, combined their talents and built a company that partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a large- scale clean-tech power plant to be constructed on the Iron Range. He holds dear the many individuals who dedicated themselves to that effort, taking on the special interests that block innovation and progress. He was proud the team conceived and enacted significant state and federal policy legislation that removed significant barriers to innovation in the power industry.

Through it all, Tom's four children were his pride and joy. He raised Jennifer and Zak with his first wife, Georgette, and then raised Signe and Kai with Julie.

Tom's favorite memories were made at the family cabin. Cabin memories spanning 50 years range from the early years with his siblings, blasting music from enormous speakers and late-night sauna and swim time drinking Italian reds, and later on, wading with his kids, grandkids, nieces, and nephews in the sandy-bottomed shallow water, playing bocce ball on the beach, waterskiing and tubing, jet skiing, and the many tales of boats breaking down that got funnier with time. Tom treasured isolating at the cabin with his father-in-law, Harris, during the summer of the pandemic, taking him fishing daily. He insisted on chopping his own wood, right up to the day he learned he had Stage IV cancer.

His wife of 27 years, Julie, was the love of his life and his partner in business. As he liked to say, she was the words, and he was the music. They enjoyed many chapters living in and visiting Italy over the years, where they had dual citizenship. 

Tom was preceded in death by his parents, his brother, Jim, and his sister, Jean (Roger) Norris. His memory is held dear by a sprawling family: His wife, Julie Jorgensen, his daughter, Jennifer (Erick) Micheletti Robbins, and their children, George, Sophia, and Ella Robbins, his son, Zak Micheletti and his children, Isaac and Flossie Micheletti, his daughter, Signe Jorgensen Brewster (Preston Connors) and their daughters, Solveig and Freya Connors, his son, Kai Jorgensen Brewster (Hannah Fazendin), and his siblings, Andrew (Cathy), Gerald (Melanie), Joe (Kathy), Don (Lynn), Andrea (Paul) Caron, and Pat (Kathi). He’s also remembered by many beloved nieces, nephews, in-laws, and friends.

Tom saw the light in every person he encountered and made it his mission to make them smile with genuine kindness or his patent brand of “trolling for emotions.” He was generous in just about every way, and if he was with you at breakfast time, he would cook you some eggs whether you wanted them or not.

Tom also had a deep sense of justice, kindness, and equality. He saw the sidelining of women and minorities as a needless waste of more than half of the available talent in the world. He worked for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, and was dedicated to changing the fact that being born female is the single biggest risk factor to a person’s health, safety, and well- being. In lieu of flowers, consider donating to the Tom Micheletti Memorial Fund, at Global Rights for Women. You can find the link at globalrightsforwomen-bloom.kindful.com/.

A visitation will take place on Thursday April 4 from 4-6 p.m. at David Lee Funeral Home, 1220 Wayzata Blvd., Wayzata. A memorial service will be held on Friday April 5 at 10 a.m. at Wayzata Community Church, 125 Wayzata Blvd., Wayzata 952-473-8877. All are welcome to attend.

David Lee Funeral Home

Wayzata 952-473-5577


Published on March 24, 2024

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