Thomas C. Groff, Choo Choo Barn owner

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May 25 1950
Nov 11 2019
69 Years
Cochranville, Pennsylvania

Thomas C. Groff, Choo Choo Barn owner 

On November 11, 2019, Tom Groff passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family. Tom had suffered for 6 years with metastatic lung cancer. He is survived by his wife of 46 years, Linda (Franklin) Groff, his daughter Kristi Largoza, husband James, son Kevin Thomas Groff, wife Meryl, grandchildren Ryan and Kaitlyn Largoza and baby-on-the-way Groff. He is also survived by his brother Gary, wife Chris, and his sister Sue Hoffard, husband Barry, and many nieces and nephews.

Tom was born on May 25, 1950 to George and Florence (Fritsch) Groff (both deceased) and grew up in Strasburg, PA. It was here that the family hobby developed with the purchase of a Lionel train set for around the Christmas tree. The family added to the set each year, finally moving the display to the basement where the local school children would come for a visit. In 1961, the layout moved to a barn on Route 741 in Strasburg, thus the birth of the Choo Choo Barn. The family business flourished under the ownership of Tom’s parents where Tom began working at age 11. After a brief stint at several other jobs, Tom returned to the Choo Choo Barn in 1975 and took over the business with Linda in 1979. This is when Tom’s talents truly came to life – he was a self-taught engineer, a true renaissance man, building complex animations for the train layout by trial and error. Those who have had the privilege of seeing Tom’s work know that his talents were endless. His ability to combine architecture, landscaping, and movement accomplished his goal: to show the world “the artistry of model railroading”. In his final months, he greatly enjoyed hearing the many notes sent by his fans who truly appreciated his life’s work. Tom’s legacy is the joy that he brought to so many through the hobby.

In addition to a love of building new animations for the layout, Tom also amassed a collection of albums and 45s, his favorites being the Beatles and the Beach Boys. He spent many years with Boy Scout Troop 20, Atglen, traveling twice with Kevin to Philmont. Known to fix anything, Tom always had something on his desk to glue, mend, or even sew for one of us. To his close family and “the card club”, he was always the bartender, wearing his wild shirts and mixing the best Old Fashioned. But his favorite times were spent cruising with Linda to the Chesapeake in the 1973 MGB that he restored.

To his grandchildren he was known as “Popsy” and they adored him. From him they have learned a love a building, dancing, and acting silly. We mourn for the experiences that his grandchildren will miss with him.

Our family would like to say a special thank you to Drs Hirsch, Brown, Simons, Michalski, Marotti, and Falowski for their endless efforts to ease Tom’s pain. Also, to the teams at UPMC Lancaster 5 West, UPMC Lititz, Keystone Cancer Center, Brethren Village, Maple Farm, Jenner’s Pond Preston Residence and Willow Tree Hospice. Tom certainly made his rounds. We feel this journey would have been much more difficult without the support and amazing attention from Dr Naeem Latif, his oncology staff and the infusion nurses. You all made Tom feel like he was your most important patient.

To our wonderful family, dear friends, and our Choo Choo Barn team, thank you. You have offered endless support during this most difficult time and we are forever grateful for your love for Tom.

A visitation will be held on Sunday, November 17 from 2:00 -5:00 PM at the Parkesburg United Methodist Church, 411 Main Street, Parkesburg, PA 19365. We will celebrate Tom’s life at 10:00 AM on Monday, November 18 at the same address. Because parking is limited at the church a shuttle service will be provided on Monday beginning at 9:30 AM at the Parkesburg Point Youth Center parking lot located at 700 Main St, Parkesburg, PA 19365. Interment will be private.

In lieu of flowers, kindly make a donation to the Octorara Area Food Cupboard, P.O. Box 424, Parkesburg PA 19365 or Willow Tree Hospice, 616 Cypress Street, Kennett Square PA 19348.

Service Date: 
Nov 18 2019 - 10:00am
Service Location: 
Parkesburg United Methodist Church 411 Main St. Parkesburg, PA 19365

Condolences

You are all in my thoughts and prayers.  Cherish all those wonderful memories..they will come in handy along the way.

Love to all.

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What a beautiful tribte.  I have never met Tom but I'm sure that he paid as much attention to detail in his life and his relationships as he did to his beautiful train layout at the Choo Choo Barn.  My condolence to Tom's family and friends.

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Tom was a very close friend and we will miss his humor and his absolute love for his family. The world is a better place because of Tom. He gave his time and talent so that so many people would have enjoyment. 

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We visited the Choo Choo Barn in 2016 and had a great time. Tom and company brought many smiles to faces over the years and I used ideas from there to enhance my Christmas village and will continue to do so in the future. RIP, Tom.

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The Paugh Family is very saddened to learn of the passing of one of our favorite people and mentors, Mr. Tom Groff, owner of The Choo Choo Barn, in Strasburg, PA.  "Tom," as he was affectionately referred to by our son Luke, had become like family to us and The Choo Choo Barn had become a second home for us throughout our many years of road trips to Lancaster County.  A road trip to Strasburg was never complete without a visit to the magnificent, magical indoor model train layout housed within the walls of this train-lover's paradise.  We would like to extend our deepest sympathy and heartfelt condolences to the entire Groff Family and the surrounding communities of his beloved hometown.  We have put together an album with a few pictures of our recent visits to The Choo Choo Barn. It is our sincere hope that you will find solace in knowing how very much Tom was loved by all and may these cherished memories bring you peace and comfort throughout this difficult time of mourning, sorrow, and grief.  Much love and continued prayers for your family.  ~ The Paugh Family ~ Rob, Kelli, Luke, and Owen (Frederick, Maryland)

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Tom was a great friend, business colleague and a master at invention and creativity.  I will miss our phone covnersations.   They just don't make them like Tom any more, the family was blessed to have him in their lives, and so were his friends.

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Dear Linda and family, May God wrap His loving arms around you and your family as Tom flies to Jesus. Our world is a better place with your abundent blessings that you continue to give. I miss him all ready

 

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There are no words that can describe losing a family member or friend like Tom.  Few in this world make such a difference for so many and it was a gift to have known him.  We shared so many special moments together at the Choo Choo Barn and in Strasburg.  

We can only hope his warm memory comforts your family during this difficult time.  And remember that Tom was loved by so many.  

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I have the most vivid memories of Tom air drumming to some obscure classic rock song on the way into school a few days a week when it was his turn to carpool. I remember the snacks he and Mrs Groff brought like clockwork to away games hours away from Cochranville. He was a good man and will certainly be missed by many. My most sincere condolences to all of the family. 

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So sorry for your loss of Tom but glad his suffering has ended and he is now in heaven with our dear Lord. Sorry will not be at his service but we are vacationing in Myrtle Beach for two weeks. Love you❤️

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My deepest sympathy, Linda to you and your family.  I know Tom will be missed by many!!

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Linda and family
My heart goes out to.you at this time of sorrow. Words can not express how you are feeling. I remember working with Tom in band boosters and in troop 20. I enjoyed working with him and talking about everything with him. My prayer is for God to put his loving arms around you and that you will be comforted and feel peace in your heart knowing he is with our Lord and Savior and also knowing how much he will be missed.

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Linda, I'm so very sorry for your loss. We are praying for you, and your family. Love, Raymond & Karen Stackhouse 

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Many years ago, My brothers Ron and Al and I decided that if Linda & Tom ever split, we would retain custody of Tom.
His has been, over these many years, a great B-I-L..
R.I.P. Tom, Heaven Bound Express Now Boarding ----
R.J. Franklin

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I knew Tom through the Strasburg Marketing Association and also through looking at the many photographs and videos posted online that showed the uniqueness of the Choo Choo Barn layout - above and below.  Tom cared deeply for his community and always had a kind word for everyone.  His smile was always genuine.  To Linda, the children and grandchildren, I send you deepest sympathies in your time of grieving but know that you find solace in knowing his suffering is over and he has been called home to his great reward.  Blessings to all of you during this time. 

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Tom has been the best brother-in-law that I could have ever hoped for.  I have come to love and respect him over the many years of our association.  He is a man of great talent, an advocate and example of true family values, and a man of highest honesty and integrity.  I am truly saddened at his early passing from this Earth Life to the next.  We who remail behind will truly miss him and his great influence on our lives.  We will be reunited with him again in a much better place.  My sincere condolences, and my Great Love for my dear sister and all the family.

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He will always be "Mr. Groff" to me, and what a legacy  he has left. My love and sincere condolences to Kristi, Linda, Kevin and the entire family. ❤️

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Our hearts go out to Tom’s family and friends. Such a wonderful man who impacted so many lives will be sorely missed. With our love, Linda and Mel Smith

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Linda and family - I am so sorry for your loss of Tom.  I have fond memories of him and you back when our kids were in school and just how awesome you and him were with them! He always had a sense of humor and made us laugh!   Praying for you and your family!  Joanne McComsey

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Linda, Kristi, Kevin and family, Tom may have left this earth but his legacy lives on in all of you and in everyone he touched. He took time from his busy day to stop and chat with our boys and myself one day, about life and being an Eagle Scout. It may not have seemed like much but it meant a lot to me! Treasure your memories and know he is always walking along side of you! Hugs and love to you all!

 

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Please accept our sincere condolences and our prayers as God helps you get through this difficult time and eases your pain.

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Dear Linda And Family: our thoughts and prayers are with you today and prayers will continue as you learn to live a life without Tom. He fought a good fight!! No matter how he felt he always had a kind word and smile. You were all blessed by having him in your lives. 

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Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Tom had lasting impact on so many people. What a wonderful legacy.  Craig and Mary 

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Sorry for your loss ,may Tom Rest in Peace . Tom & Colette Shay Lancaster,PA.

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Lifting up prayers to our God for your comfort, peace and strength in this time of sorrow. Many hugs!  Don and Helen Taylor

 

 

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Our Prayers and thoughts are with you Linda and Family at this time. I never met Tom but know that he was a Wonderful husband, parent and grandparent! He truly had a Gift from God and used his talent to bring Joy to everyone. We were so amazed every time we visited the Choo Choo Barn...Prayers that Gods angels will surround you comfort peace and love  from family and friends. You too are an Amazing person being at his side thru past years giving him love support!

 

 

 

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Dear  Linda, Kristi,  Kevin and families,

Our family shares your sorrow in Tom's Passing. Tom was a kind, generous, funny and caring friend, Most importantly he was so patient and accepted us for who we are.

You are a remarkable family. Thanks for truly enriching our lives, Tom. Love and God bless you all.        Love Chuck, Jen, Jon, Andrea and family

 

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My condolences to Kristi, Linda, Kevin, and family.

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Our heartfelt condolences to Tom Groff’s family and the Choo Choo Barn family.  We have visited the display many times and have wonderful memories of enjoying it as a family.  Only a truly remarkable man could have created such a wonderful and magical miniature world that would bring joy to so many people.  -- The Madonia Family (Mark, Michele, and Ryan)

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We are so sorry for your loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and all the family at this difficult time.

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Our deepest sympathies to you, Linda, Kristi, Kevin and family. No words could express the sadness one feels in the passing of a love one. Tom will be sorely missed and it is our prayer that God’s peace surround you more so at this time of sorrow. In the interim, take comfort in knowing that we shall see him again in that Heavenly place where God shall wipe away all tears!

 

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Tom, a great friend, close neighbor, fellow: CubPack member, classmate, math nut, and on and on.... I'm sad yet happy just to remember.
To his family and many friends I send my heartfelt sympathy.

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I had the honor and privilege of providing dental care for Tom and his loving family for decades. Tom and I sharedmany things in common, music, numerous hobbies and the belief that yes, we could fix anything. As I write this, there is sadness, but also a comfort in knowing his very difficult cancer battle has ended. To Linda, Kristi, Kevin and family our thoughts and prayers are with you.

George and Mary Anne Stuppy

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