PLATTEVILLE — A participant in last weekend’s Historic Reenactment died during the Platteville Dairy Days parade Saturday morning.
Tom Hasting, 60, Machesney Park, Ill., collapsed in front of the Platteville Public Library around 9:45 a.m. as participants of the Historic Reenactment began walking in the parade.
Jeff Schave of Platteville, one of the reenactors, said Hasting “told me he couldn’t wait to march with you and [Schave’s wife] Cindy in the parade.”
Jeff Schave said two other reenactors, a physician assistant and a retired police officer, began resuscitation efforts immediately. Southwest Health EMS was there “within three minutes,” he added.
Southwest Health EMS took Hasting to Southwest Health, where he died.
Hastings’ obituary describes him as a “historical reenactor of the pre-Revolutionary Era.” The Historic Reenactment hosted 1,800 area school students Friday.
The Schaves met Hasting 15 years ago. Hasting had participated in the Historic Reenactment for about a decade.
“He was just one of those people and you see him at living history events, yet he was always so friendly and right there with a hug and always interested in other people,” said Cindy Schave.
“He would give you the shirt off his back even if it was his last shirt,” said Jeff Schave.
Crossroads Rendezvous of Saukville, which presents living history demonstrations and presentations, wrote on its Facebook page that “We lost a wonderful, kind, dedicated participant this past weekend. … He left us doing what he loved the most among friends and fellow reenactors. He will be sorely missed and fondly remembered.”
Stephanie Saager-Bourret of Platteville, another reenactor, said Hasting portrayed “an explorer, mapmaker and trader with Native Americans.”
Jeff Schave said Hasting “loved to teach with basic necessities. … People that met him for the first time met a new friend.”
Hasting missed the 2018 Historic Reenactment because of ill health. He attended this year despite a physician’s warning to not attend due to his health.
A 2015 story from Isthmus, a Madison weekly publication, reported that Hasting, an Army military police veteran, suffered from post traumatic stress disorder from an unspecified childhood incident. Several years ago, Hasting, who then weighed almost 400 pounds, lived in a pickup truck while working part-time overnights at a group home.
Hasting then moved to Veterans Transitional Housing in Janesville, an apartment complex for homeless veterans, and got treatment from the Veterans Administration hospital in Madison for diabetes. He then moved to Madison and worked part-time at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, a job he told Isthmus “has given me back my dignity.”
Hasting also was an illustrator whose goal was to have his art displayed in the museum where he worked.
“Even with his challenges, he still wanted to do things with his art,” said Jeff Schave.
In late 2018 Hasting spent six months in the VA Hospital due to heart and kidney issues. He had set up a GoFundMe page to fund a trip to England to see The Struts rock band and the Liverpool Reds soccer team because, as he said a doctor told him, “You’d better do it now as you have a small window of health.”
Cindy Schave said Hasting was scheduled for a heart-valve replacement in October.
“He was very engaging,” she said. “He might talk about his physical issues with you one-on-one around a campfire.
“He also liked debate, but he was very good natured about it. He was a reasoned debater.”
During the reenactors’ dinner Friday night, Hasting grabbed a Dairy Queen Dilly Bar, saying, “It’s on my keto diet,” and then got two pieces of cake, saying “It’s keto-friendly.”
“And then he said you never know when you’re going to go, you might as well enjoy dessert,” said Cindy Schave. “I think he picked his time.”
After Hasting was taken to Southwest Health, Cindy Schave and other reenactors carried what Hasting was planning to carry on the parade.
“Finishing that parade was really hard,” she called, describing the encampment Saturday and Sunday as “very somber.”
The Historic Reenactment held a memorial service Saturday night with members of Hasting’s family attending.
“It was a very healing time on Saturday night, and we welcomed his relatives into our family as well,” said Jeff Schave.
Hasting is survived by his wife Lisa, children Dana and Dale, nine grandchildren, his brother Donnie and his mother Marie Jacobson.
Hasting’s visitation and funeral will be at Sunset Funeral Home in Machesney Park, Ill., Thursday at 10 a.m. Attendees are asked to wear something of the Chicago Cubs or Bears or the Liverpool Reds.