Friends, Colleagues Remember Former State Sen. Tom Casperson

Former state lawmaker Tom Casperson has died.

Casperson passed away at age 61 after battling lung cancer.  Plans for a memorial service haven’t yet been announced.

Casperson was born in Escanaba and worked in his family’s logging business. He then served in both the Michigan House, from 2003 to 2008, and then in the Senate from 2011 to 2018.

Casperson represented the U.P., but former colleague State Senator Wayne Schmidt of Traverse City says Casperson was always focused on his roots while working at the capitol in Lansing.

“His passion for the outdoors, for making sure the people of Northern Michigan, the Upper Peninsula in particular, were always remembered in Lansing.”

Schmidt says as the “junior senator from the north,” this was a trait Casperson passed on to him.

“The imprint that Tom made on me is going to last forever. He was a close friend and I’m going to miss him greatly. It’s a great loss for the Upper Peninsula and the entire state. Tom was a good friend of mine, a mentor, a confidant. (I) worked with him closely. His family – my heart goes out to them. He was a great guy.”

Other friends and colleagues shared their remembrances on social media or via statements to the media.

State Rep. Triston Cole said:
“Tom was a great man. It was such a privilege to chair the House transportation committee while Tom chaired the Senate transportation committee. We had several joint committee meetings together. Condolences to his family and all his friends. Really appreciated Tom’s guidance during the start of my time in the legislature. RIP my friend.”

GOP Chair Laura Cox shared this:

“I am incredibly saddened to hear about the passing of my friend, Senator Tom Casperson, after his long battle with cancer. I had the distinct pleasure of serving with him in the legislature, and I was always inspired by his commitment to our shared values and to the people of Michigan. Tom Casperson will be remembered for his dedicated service to the Upper Peninsula, and he will stand as an example for future generations of public servants looking to better their communities. On behalf of all Michigan Republicans, I want to send our most heartfelt condolences to Senator Casperson’s family and friends.”

And Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued this statement:

“Tom Casperson was an unwavering public servant, who made sure Yoopers always felt like their voices were heard in our state Capitol at every point during the legislative process. While our politics varied, Tom proved that it was still possible to find common ground and work together to do right by the people of Michigan. As Senate Democratic Leader, I was proud to work across the aisle with state Senator Casperson to expand health care coverage through the Healthy Michigan plan, which now ensures coverage for more than 800,000 Michiganders across our state. Despite his diagnosis, Tom remained committed to doing the people’s work as he battled this vicious disease. My thoughts are with Tom’s family during this difficult time.” 

Whitmer’s office says when arrangements are announced, she’ll also be requesting that flags be flown at half-staff in Casperson’s honor.