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Green Acres Mortuary & Cemetery

401 North Hayden Road, Scottsdale, AZ

OBITUARY

Thomas James Birkeland

June 19, 1958June 3, 2019
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Thomas James Birkeland

A kind, gentle, humble soul left this world on June 3, 2019. Our brother, Tom, died at his home in Tempe, AZ. He was a beloved son, brother, uncle, cousin, and a loyal true friend.

Tom was born in New Rockford, North Dakota to Myron and Mary Ann (Allmaras) Birkeland on June 19, 1958. Graduating from New Rockford Central School in 1976, Tommy excelled in multiple sports. He continued his studies at Valley City State College in Valley City, ND where he played football and golf. Tom’s adventurous spirit took him to Mission Ridge Ski School in Wenatchee, Washington to pursue his love of snow skiing and become a ski instructor. Coming back ‘home’ to North Dakota Tom began working in the oil fields which led him to his passion of operating a crane. Tom moved to Arizona and for the past 31 years has worked as an expert crane operator for Tempe Crane. Tom valued his work family and was proud to be a mentor for many co-workers.

Tom’s greatest pleasures were his faith and his family. Hillsong Church in Phoenix was very influential in Tom’s life and he went on to strengthen his spiritual education through Hillsong Ministry School. Tom modeled his life similar to the famous quote from Gale Sayers, Hall of Fame football player, “The Lord is first, My friends are second, And I am third.” Tom was very proud of his family and reminded us and his many nieces and nephews to “Keep On Keepin On.” KOKO was his absolute signature.

Tom will be deeply missed by his family: Ann Guler (late Tim), Pelican Rapids, MN; Mike and Carol Birkeland, Tempe, AZ; Terry and Sherri Birkeland, Bemidji, MN; Jose Rodiles (late Betsy), Phoenix, AZ; Bob and Angela Birkeland, Show Low, AZ; Buffy and Scott Medalen, Minot, ND; Timmy and Penny Birkeland, Perham, MN; his many nieces and nephews who adored ‘Uncle Tommy’; Uncle Duane Birkeland; Aunt Mary Ellen Rue; Aunt Beverly Soderholm and many Birkeland, Allmaras, and Bass cousins.

Family greeting Tom at the gates of heaven are our grandparents, Mamie and Olaf Birkeland, Louie and Ann Allmaras, our Mom and Dad, baby sister Susan, sister Betsy and brother-in-law Tim Guler. Visitation and prayer service will be Monday, June 10 at Green Acres Mortuary (401 N. Hayden Road, Scottsdale, AZ) from 5:00 - 7:00 PM. The funeral service will be Tuesday, June 11 at 10:00 AM, also at Green Acres Mortuary. Tom will be cremated and his ashes will be placed in a special bench next to our beautiful sister Betsy’s grave where he will keep watch over her for eternity.

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Services

  • Visitation Monday, June 10, 2019
  • Funeral Service Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Memories

Thomas James Birkeland

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Gary Klein

June 11, 2019

So saddened for the loss of Tom and the effect he will have on all those he touched through out his life. What a great ambassador of kindnesses and caring for others.
Rudy Wick was right about Tom’s athletic ability. I too so enjoyed watching him in high school. He could play any sport well. Great athlete.
The Birkeland family is in my thoughts and prayers. All my love. Gary

Diane Holth

June 11, 2019

Condolences to the family. So very sad.

Karmen Homes Sandberg

June 11, 2019

My mom-Kate-absolutely loved Tommy....at your Dads funeral Tommy shared a few stories of him and my mom and their time working at Town and Country Motors...they really did have some good times...I treasure each and every story someone shares with me of my mom-I hope you find comfort in the stories and memories of Tom...it’s very healing! I’m sure a good time is happening in heaven! Again I’m so sorry..

Mary Gaffrey Knier

June 11, 2019

Dear Ann, and all the Birkelands.

I am so sorry for this tragedy, and I am so sorry for Tom's suffering. I will be thinking and praying for Tom and you especially this morning as you are preparing for Tom's funeral.

I'm sure you have been sharing so many great stories of Tom, laughing and crying. Know that I will keep him in my daily rosary.

With much love,
Mary GK

Lorell Seibold

June 10, 2019

To the Birkeland Family:
I am sincerely saddened to hear of this. I too shared the Rockets sports arena in New Rockford with Tom in track & football. He was a year younger but always a gentleman sportsman! My wish & prayer is for a special strength & healing for your family at this time. Godspeed on your journey, Tom.

Rudy Wick

June 9, 2019

My deepest sympathies go out to the Birkeland family. I will not be able to make the trip for the services but if there is anything I can do from afar, please do not hesitate to let me know.
I had so many good times with Tom during our high school days and beyond. We did a lot together before physically drifting apart, him to AZ and myself to AK. One memory that has stuck with me was during a football game in Larimore. It was one of the few plays in which Tom wasn’t caring the ball. He came around my end at a high rate of speed to put a block on someone. He blindsided the linebacker that I was playing patty cakes with and ground him into the field until the whistle blew. After the play he jumped up in front of me and for a second, I thought I was next. Looking into his helmet and seeing the look on his face - biting down on his mouth guard, glasses crooked and blood running down the bridge of his nose. That night he showed me how to block.
Tom truly excelled at all his endeavors. He had no quit and always gave it his all, weather it was in the many sports he enjoyed or just being a friend. He would call me on my birthday and always reached out when he found out I had an issue or misfortune. I will miss him and will always remember him as the kindest person I have ever known.
Monday started with a call from Tom’s goddaughter, my daughter Kelsey. She just found out she is expecting a second child. If it’s a boy, perhaps they could name him Maynard McMecken.
Monday ended hearing about the loss of a true friend. A friend that will never be forgotten.
Rudolph Wick

Charlie Sticka

June 7, 2019

Charlie Sticka

June 7, 2019

Charlie Sticka

June 7, 2019

Charlie Sticka

June 7, 2019

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