Thomas Gustav Nygaard, 73, of Indianapolis, passed away peacefully on Thursday, December 14, 2023, at Community North Hospital after a short battle with cancer.
There are no perfect words to describe the loss of Tom Nygaard. A familiar face in the Broad Ripple community and beyond, he owned and operated Nygaard’s Service at Kessler and College for more than 40 years. More importantly, he was a wonderful human being with a kind, loving, funny and generous spirit. Tom never met a stranger, and he was always ready with a bad joke. He never failed to show up if you needed help, whether it was building shelves or fixing a leaky faucet, and he almost never complained about it.
Tom was born on January 23, 1950 in Minneapolis, Minnesota to Roy and Agnes (Gordon) Nygaard, and he was long rumored to be his mom’s favorite child. He started working on cars as a teenager, at the same shop he later bought, while attending Broad Ripple High School. He always loved tinkering and fixing things — so much that he never wanted to retire.
He served in the U.S. Army in the early 1970s, stationed in Frankfurt, Germany. He returned to work at the shop, in those days a Mobil station, and went on to buy the business in the early 1980s. If you knew Tom as his customer, you knew him to be truly honest and fair. And to clarify, if you felt confused when he referred to himself as “MOT,” that’s because he spent all those years looking down at the name tag on his shirt, reading it backwards.
He loved buying and rebuilding classic cars, including his prized “Ollie” — a 1967 Oldsmobile 442 that only came out of the garage if the forecast said zero percent chance of rain for the next year or two — and his cherry red 1939 Pontiac. He owned a rare three-wheeled car for a short time, but he had to sell it because the damn thing kept tipping over. Or so he said.
If you knew Tom as a family member or friend, you laughed with him (and at him) and knew you were loved. You hung out in the adult playground that was his basement, equipped with a pool table, antique slot machine and arcade games, listening to ZZ Top and the oldies or watching his Minnesota Vikings. You were along for the ride with wacky Nygaard traditions like passing a cob of corn around the table so everyone could take a bite or the time-honored and well-honed skill of “trash picking” for treasure (i.e. discarded but perfectly good furniture). You learned to appreciate, or at least tolerate, western movies and The Three Stooges.
Tom was the proud father of Donny Nygaard, a Police Captain in Cicero, father-in-law to Christie Nygaard and “Papa Tom” to Jason Kelley. He was both brother and best friend to Bob Nygaard (Margie) of St. Charles, Missouri; Camilla Smith of Indianapolis; and the late Carole Morris of Jacksonville, Florida, who passed away just five weeks before her big brother. Tom will be deeply missed by his entire family, including nieces and nephews Tracey Harting (Kenny), John Nygaard, Shane Morris (Julie) and Ashley Smith, and many cousins in Minnesota, as well as longtime friends, dedicated current and former employees, and Broad Ripple neighbors.
He was one of a kind in the best way possible, and there will never be another quite like him.
Visitation for Tom will be from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, December 20, 2023, at Flanner Buchanan – Broad Ripple (1305 Broad Ripple Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46220) with a funeral service immediately following at 4:30 p.m. Burial will be private.
The funeral service will be webcasted, please use the link below to view his service, once posted.
Memorial contributions in his name may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.