I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day.
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II Timothy 4:7-8
A Time to Be Born
Thomas John VanLandingham, son of the late Thomas John VanLandingham and Celestine Lyles VanLandingham, was born on July 2, 1965 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The late James “Jimmy Mac” McCormick raised him as his own. He was a husband, father, grandfather, brother, friend, and servant leader within his community. On Wednesday, April, 14, 2021 God in His infinite wisdom and compassion, sent His angels to the bedside of Thomas and ushered him quietly and peacefully to eternal rest, with his loving wife by his side.
A Time to Grow
Thomas, affectionately known "Tom," received his formal education in the Philadelphia Public School system, graduating from University City High School in 1983. Upon graduation, he attended the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) in Princess Anne, Maryland, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration in 1988. Upon graduation, Tom began his professional career at SHORE UP! Inc. in 1988. During his tenure at SHORE UP!, Tom held several positions. He served as Fiscal Assistant, Weatherization Assistant, and Head Start Site Coordinator, before ascending into the role of Director for the Office of Home Energy Programs, which provides financial support to eligible individuals and families, until the time of his death. In 2018, Tom was recognized as Employee of the Year for his hard work and dedication. With a passion to succeed, Tom was highly motivated, energetic, and poured his heart and soul in everything in which he believed. Whether it was his entrepreneurial endeavors, career, family, friends, and his beloved fraternity, his loyalty and dedication were undeniable.
Tom was kind, loving, intelligent, funny, and made friends very easily. In fact, he never met anyone he considered a stranger, sometimes at his own peril. He always thought those he befriended were worthy of love and friendship. His commitment to helping others went beyond the boundaries of his professional career. Active in the community, Tom coached for the Salvation Army Basketball League and received several awards from the Wicomico County Department of Recreation, Parks, and Tourism for his activities with the youth. In 2018, he was inducted into the 100 Men of Distinction, celebrating the work they had done for their community. Tom is mostly known for his community involvement with Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., where he was an active member.
Thomas "Funky Fresh" VanLandingham became a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., and was initiated into the Gamma XI Chapter on November 26, 1985, while attending the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. There, he served as Dean of Pledgees and Polemarch. After graduation, Tom became a very active member of Salisbury Alumni, Grand, and Providence Chapters of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. Over the years, he held various offices in the Salisbury Alumni Chapter, including several terms as Polemarch. In 1990, Tom co-founded and organized the chapter's Kappa Guide Right Basketball League where his dedication and service continued for twenty-nine years.
Through his continuous service, the Kappa Guide Right Basketball League successfully impacted the youth of Salisbury and provided hundreds of area at risk youth with the opportunity to enhance their basketball skills and develop and achieve their educational goals. Many of the youth continued fulfilling the aspirations of basketball by competing on the high school, college, and professional levels. Tom also played a vital role in his daughter Casey's basketball successes. It is noteworthy that he was an integral part to the success of the major Kappa fundraiser, the Kappa Kruise, which provided scholarships to local youth.
His work didn't stop on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, but extended to the Provincial Level serving as Vendor Coordinator and Eastern Province Region 1 Alumni Board Member. Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. was cherished by Tom and he was affectionately known and sought after in friendship at the Province and National events.
Tom possessed a great deal of strength and courage as he fought the good fight and he has now finished his race, after enduring many health challenges. We did not know the level of pain he experienced and endured continuously on a daily basis. Tom's spirit never wavered and he maintained a radiant smile that won over many hearts. He was warm, compassionate, fun-loving, and always willing to go the extra mile for his family and friends, whom he loved dearly, to ensure their comfort and well-being. The recent births of his two grandchildren, Sebastian “Bash-Bash” and Mallory “MJ,” brightened his days. Tom's passing has left an unspeakable void in the hearts and minds of all those who spent time with him
A Time to Love
Tom leaves to cherish his loving memories: his wife, Dana VanLandingham; children, Essence Zhane' VanLandingham, Corey L Morton, Jr. (Marissa), and Casey L Monroe-Gaskins (Shaquille); two grandchildren, Sebastian Aasim Monroe-Gaskins "Bash-Bash" and Mallory Joy Morton "MJ"; brothers, Ralph VanLandingham and Brian Brissett; one sister, Terri Brissett; step-mother, Margo VanLandingham; five nephews, Amin, Darryl, Jr., DeRon, Demarics, and Keith, Jr.; one niece, Ayriel; one aunt, Leonthia (Charles) Kelley; father-in-law, Vannie Coles, Jr.; sisters-in-law, Rhonda Banks, Carolyn Coles, and Joy Pollard (Marcus); one brother-in-law, Vannie Coles III (Janelle); three godchildren; Jordan Griffin, Robyn Joynes, and Jaibyn Hull; and a host of loving relatives, fraternity brothers, and friends.
He was preceded in death by his loving parents, Thomas Vanlandingham, Celestine VanLandingham, and dad, James McCormick; mother-in-law, Tyeace Waters; maternal grandparents, Ralph and Louise Hendly; maternal great-grandmother, Lula Adger; brother, Christopher Matnog; Gamma XI brothers, Camillio, Michael, and Victor; and beloved brother, Bruce Wharton.
A Time to Rejoice
On Wednesday, April 14, 2021, Thomas heard the call and he was gently escorted to where healing waters flow. He was called into the newness of life with the grace that had sustained the old. His illness was washed away in soothing currents of love. Can't you see that smile on his face as he walks those streets paved with gold?