Thomas Marvin Applegate

Applegate—Thomas Marvin Applegate, 82, on October 31, 2018, peacefully, in Dayton, Ohio, with family and a few Dayton Friends present, of pancreatic cancer diagnosed in January. Tom was born on June 22, 1936, in Spiceland, Ind., where he was a birthright member of Spiceland Meeting of Friends United Meeting (FUM). He married Carolyn Groves in 1957 at her home meeting, New Castle (Ind.) Meeting (FUM) and earned a bachelor’s degree from Earlham College in 1959 to prepare for ministry in Indiana and Wilmington Yearly Meetings. In the 1960s, he was pastor at Economy (Ind.) and Sabina (Ohio) Meetings, a member of the Lions Club in those towns, a social worker in Sabina’s first Head Start program, and chair of the Sabina Ministerial Association in 1963–1965. He also clerked the Wilmington Yearly Meeting Camping Committee in 1965–1967, was a camp director at Quaker Knoll Church Camp in 1968, clerked Wilmington Yearly Meeting’s Ministry and Council Committee in 1967–1969, and joined the Wilmington Yearly Meeting Team Ministry Experiment in Clinton County, Ohio. Meanwhile he studied at Earlham School of Religion and taught at local schools in Adams Township and Clinton County, Ohio. With a master’s in education from University of Dayton, he taught and coached basketball at Dayton City Schools for 28 years at Grace A. Green Elementary, MacFarlane Middle, Fairport Intermediate, and Dunbar High School, where he was head basketball coach.

Working in predominantly African American schools gave him friendships and experiences that prompted a life-long commitment to racial reconciliation. He lived briefly with the family of an African American teacher when he started at Dunbar, and then he and Carolyn settled in West Dayton, Ohio, near the school. The couple became a second family to the team members, opening their house and hearts, and often providing for material needs. They formally fostered one son, but many other young men became part of their family.

A member of Dayton (Ohio) Meeting for 27 years, he clerked the Ministry and Oversight and Peace and Social Concerns Committees, organized second-hour discussions, and represented the meeting in the wider Dayton community and in Ohio Valley Yearly Meeting. He spoke often about love in meeting and witnessed to God’s love through his everyday life. Gathering regularly with a group of ministers from other faiths, he also volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and the St. Vincent de Paul homeless shelter in Dayton. An account of his time at Dunbar, Living a Dream with Coach Gate, in 2004, conveys his passionate love for basketball and his commitment to using basketball and teaching as a ministry to his players. Central to his ministry was an ability to listen deeply to others and to recognize and encourage love in those he met. His example of humility, love, and service challenged others to live with greater care and compassion.

About a month before his death, when he realized the cancer would be terminal, he texted friends and family about the importance of love, saying that he believed more and more that God is love and will forgive us whenever we ask.
Former team members and fellow coaches attended his memorial service and spoke about his impact on their lives. Dayton Meeting feels the loss of their dear Friend and honors a life well lived. His daughter and grandchildren are active in Dayton Meeting, and his sons remain connected to Mennonite and Quaker communities.

His foster son, Craig Reeder, passed away in the summer of 2018. Tom is survived by his wife, Carolyn Groves Applegate; three children, Terri Scarpelli (Al), Trent Applegate, and Scott Applegate; and two grandchildren.

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