Thomas Raschke

Obituary of Thomas Nicholas Raschke

Thomas N. Raschke died on October 18, 2023, of cardiac arrest. He was 72. What is written here doesn’t come close to describing what a good husband, dad, grandpa, brother, police officer, and friend he was.

Tom grew up on the East Side of Chicago, where he was a star pitcher and football player at St. Francis DeSales High School. He came to Dubuque in 1969 to attend Loras College, where he later earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. There Tom met Elizabeth Leicht, a Clarke student. They married in 1975.

Tom served in the Dubuque Police Department for 31 years, retiring as a Captain in 2006. He led hundreds of investigations in the Criminal Investigation Division, was the first supervisor of the Community Oriented Policing Unit, and played a key role in developing the Department’s process for investigating domestic assaults. Tom received the National Mental Health Association Community Service Award in 2005. He also received dozens of letters from (among others) the Dubuque Chief of Police, other local law enforcement, the FBI, and the Secret Service praising his skill, teamwork, leadership, professional integrity, and commitment to duty. Tom loved police work because it gave him opportunities to help people who really needed it. When he retired, the Chief of Police wrote, “Know that your work will continue through others you have inspired, and will be felt for years to come.” Tom’s retirement plaque from the Dubuque County Sheriff’s Office said in part, “Your work involving mental health and domestic violence has been monumental. Thanks for making Dubuque a safer community to live.”

Tom later became a probation/parole officer at the Dubuque Residential Facility, supporting criminal offenders in their rehabilitation. He taught criminal justice courses at Loras and Northeast Iowa Community College. He was also a volunteer driver for DuRide.

He was awarded the Dubuque County Law Enforcement Badge of Honor in 2016. The citation noted, “Tom impacted many officers’ careers with his infectious laugh, sense of humor, and positive personality, bringing a welcome reprieve to an often frustrating atmosphere."

Tom called everyone by a nickname, and if you didn’t have one already, one would be provided for you. He was “Ace” to his friends from Chicago and “Rats” to his many friends and colleagues in Dubuque. For the past three years, he was “Grandpa,” too. Tom and his wife moved to the DC area in 2022 to be near their daughter and grandson—also named Thomas, in the hope that he will grow up to be like Grandpa.

Tom was tough but twice as kind, with deep faith in God. He was honest, dependable, hard-working, considerate and conscientious to a fault. He took every chance to extend a kindness. In the Dubuque winter, Tom wouldn’t shovel his own driveway without digging out half the neighborhood. As a young police officer, he was quick to take a bad shift so a colleague with a family could spend a holiday at home. Tom enjoyed jogging for many years, and he always liked to read, mostly nonfiction and the daily paper. He followed Chicago sports, especially the White Sox, Jordan-era Bulls, and Bears. In

football season he would commiserate with his brother during their weekly phone call. That was different one year, and one year only: in 1986, when the Bears won the Super Bowl, he recorded the song “Monsters of the Midway” off the TV and played it again and again, singing along in his living room.

He thought he didn’t want to travel, but Tom came to like what he called “vacay” with his wife, Liz. Besides visiting family in the Midwest, they went to Ireland, mainland Europe, Mexico, Canada, and all over the United States.

Tom is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Raschke, of Springfield, VA; daughter, Diana Raschke, son-in-law, J. Todd Reed, and grandson, Thomas Reed-Raschke, all of Arlington, VA; and his brother and sister, Frank and Arlene Raschke, of Chicago. Tom was preceded in death by his parents and brother Robert.

No services are scheduled at this time. Tom’s wife and daughter plan to hold a celebration of life in Dubuque in the spring.

Giving back was important to Tom, and St. Jude Children’s Hospital was his favorite charity. A St. Jude memorial fund has been established in his name for anyone who would like to donate in his memory.

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