The legacy of a true friend of West Central Illinois laid to rest earlier this year has been enshrined in a special way.
75 years ago, Tom Lashmett was born in Jacksonville. He grew up in Winchester and graduated high school in 1961. Tom also served his country with one Army tour in Vietnam.
As part of the ribbon cutting ceremony to open the fair yesterday, the Morgan County fair board announced their decision to name the County Fair office after Tom, who loyally served the Morgan County fair for decades and was happy to assist others as they needed.
After graduating from SIU Carbondale in 1969, Tom worked for the University of Illinois Extension office in Rockford for about 3 years before returning home to West Central Illinois in 1972 and setting up shop in the Morgan County Extension office, where he retired in 2002.
He served on the Morgan County fair board for a number of years, and was properly commemorated for his efforts by the Morgan and Scott County Fairs in 2015.
Former Morgan County Fair Board Chairman and current board member Marty Marr says Tom Lashmett was an instrumental advocate for the County Fair and how it has evolved.
“Tom Lashmett was a great mentor to all the board members here throughout the years, and we all felt it appropriate to dedicate a building to him out here because he was instrumental in getting a lot of buildings put up out here and brought a lot of resources to the Morgan County fair in his 30-plus years of service. Everyone always enjoyed being around him, and he was truly dedicated to Morgan County. We felt it was the right thing to do, and we were so glad to see his family out here today and all the many dignitaries. It was just a great morning to kick the 2018 Morgan County fair off.”
Tom’s children, Gordon and Christina, as well as his grandson and namesake Zachary Thomas Lashmett, were all in attendance yesterday at the ribbon cutting. Tom’s son Gordon says that the recognition is a great display of his father’s memory and lifelong love of the fair.
“It’s very appropriate. I think this would have a lot of genuine meaning and appreciation to him because it was a labor of love for him. To see that his name is displayed on the Fair office would mean a lot to him, and for that reason it truly means a lot to me and the rest of my family. We’ve had a lot of people offering their condolences and respect to Dad, and that also means a lot.”
Some of the improvements Tom Lashmett oversaw in his time with the Morgan County fair include the new Extension Office building, the 4-H building, the merchant building, Clover Café, and the Fair office which will now bear his name for generations to come. Tom also helped with the Scott County Nimrod Funk building and the Cass County Extension building.