Deceased: November 8, 2000
Alumni survivors: Ms. Jann I. Fisher ’74 (Sibling), Mr. Joseph T. Ceithaml ’99 (Nephew)
A remembrance from Jeanne Krause Kosek ’70
My first encounter with Tom was during our Freshman Orientation Week at Carleton. Over the previous summer we incoming freshmen had been assigned to read certain books on topics which correlated with our then-intended major. Sociology was my thought at the time. The book I was assigned was some voluminous, gawd-awful text on city planning… around seven hundred somniferous pages of pure unadulterated snooze material. Or so I thought at the time.
One afternoon during Frosh Week, those of us unfortunates assigned to the aforementioned text assembled in Great Hall. Under the leadership of a professor we were to discuss what we had learned from our summer read. Being freshmen at our greenest, most of us in the group were too self-conscious and/or too intimidated to speak up. Except for this one guy. He not only proffered his opinions, he did so with confidence and passion and full volume, eventually working himself into quite a sweat, bobbing and weaving like a shadow boxer trying to coax an opponent into the ring. Suddenly he commenced to punch, throwing stunningly powerful verbal hooks and crosses…BAM!..jabs and uppercuts…Ooof! We watched in dead silence, the poor professor included. What in the hell was this guy doing?? Defending us all against grids of unalphabetized city streets? … The dire consequences of over-stressed infrastructure? …sloppy zoning policies? … or annoying roundabouts in residential neighborhoods? One thing was clear: he was determined to land the blow that would shatter the glass jaw of the SOB who authored this bore-ass book.
It seemed to go on forever. The guy wouldn’t relinquish the floor (not that any of us wanted it.) All we could do was stare at him, dumbfounded. “WOW!” I thought, totally flummoxed. “How could such a great-looking young guy get so maniacally worked up over urban planning?!?” Little did I know I was witnessing the innate posturing of a terrific trial lawyer-in-the-making.
After Carleton Tom and I became friends. He was a fiercely loyal friend, not to only me, but to every one of his friends. He was always so much fun to be with. He loved fast cars and forever seemed to be driving a new model, each one a shiny red. Tom loved to laugh. And what a great sounding laugh he had.
One night Tom and I and our good friend Mary were having dinner. Mary and I were hovering around the age of 50 and weren’t terribly happy about that.
We asked him, “Hey, Tom, do you think we’re still attractive?”
Without hesitation he answered,
“Attractive? Why you two look just like models!”
“We do?” we demurred in sing-song unison like a couple of Betty Boops.
“Yes, you do. You look just like a couple of model citizens.”
Tom has been gone almost twenty years, but I can still hear that wonderful sound of his laughter as if he were sitting right next to me.
Thomas Iliff was admitted to practice in the State of Minnesota, the State of Arizona and the United States Tax Court. Tom and Dan began working together in 1979 when they teamed up to defend a client charged with criminal failure to file tax returns. Together, they helped hundreds of people throughout the upper Midwest solve IRS tax problems of every description, including working on approximately a dozen criminal prosecutions. They began sharing offices in 1994 and worked side-by-side for seven years until Tom passed unexpectedly on November 8, 2000.
Tom earned a Bachelor’s degree from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota in 1970. He then graduated from William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1974. After becoming a member of the Minnesota Bar, Tom established a private law practice in Bloomington, Minnesota and later in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, where he worked with Dan for years.
Tom was a charter Consulting Member of TFI and member of the Advisory Board from its inception until his passing in 2000. His friendship and counsel are greatly missed.