Tom Jaekels, Rest in Peace

by Suzanne Calvin

Dallas Opera Costume Shop Manager Janet Powell was the first to bring us the heart-rending news:


It is with great sadness that I must report that we lost one of our own over the holidays. Tom Jaekels, our talented lead cutter and master wit, died Christmas day at Baylor Hospital. He had courageously battled multiple cancers over the past year. His bravery and passion have been an inspiration to us all. It is a great loss for the Dallas Opera. We love him and we miss him.”

We offer our sincere condolences to his family, costume shop co-workers, many friends and loved ones.  Tom’s obituary follows:


Thomas Raymond Jaekels was born September 15th, 1962 in Milwaukee Wisconsin to Paul and Margaret Jaekels. He spent his childhood with his family in Milwaukee until moving to Dallas, Texas in 1985.


For the last 25 years, Tom created and designed costumes for theater, television, opera, film, and custom-couture in the Dallas area. Tom earned his BFA in Costume Construction from the University of Wisconsin Professional Theater Conservatory in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He also attended Illinois Wesleyan University with a music performance scholarship.


Tom moved to Dallas in 1985 to work as an intern at the Dallas Theater Center. After his internship he was asked to join the staff and he stayed for 9 years. During that time, he designed the costumes for Adrian Hall’s production of A CHRISTMAS CAROL.


Tom worked for the Dallas Opera, Dallas Theater Center, Shakespeare Dallas, Lyric Stage, Contemporary Theater of Dallas, Theater Three, and the Dallas Children’s Theater. He received the Dallas Critic’s Forum award for outstanding costume design for the theatrical production of THE MISANTHROPE with Gryphon Players, and the Leon Rabin award for outstanding costume design of a drama for his work on SAILING TO BYZANTIUM for Echo Theater.


Nationally, Tom worked with such theaters as Tennessee Repertory Theater in Nashville, American Players Theatre in Madison, and Stage West in Hartford. Tom’s costumes also appear nationally in local stores at Halloween, having designed several series of costumes for Paper Magic in New York City.


Tom served as the Assistant Costume Designer and Costume Shop Manager for BARNEY and FRIENDS, completing nine years of PBS series-programming and three live concert tours. A member of Dallas’ IATSE Local 464, he worked on such television shows as Prison Break, LAX, and Walker Texas Ranger. He was awarded two daytime Emmy awards for his work on the PBS children’s television series WISHBONE.


Tom sang Tenor I with the Turtle Creek Chorale for over 18 years. He also sang with the Cathedral of Hope choir for many years. He was most excited about singing in Dallas’ mixed chorus Resounding Harmony.


Thomas Raymond Jaekels passed away on Christmas Day, December 25th, 2009, with his family at his side after a year-long battle with kidney cancer. Tom is preceded in death by his mother and farther, grandparents, his aunt Mary Ann Slaney and Uncle John Slaney, and his mother-in-law, Rita Hawkins. He is survived by his partner of 24 years, Mark Hawkins, his big sister Cathy Bianco and family of Kansas City MO, his brother Tim Jaekels and family of Omaha NE, and his little sister Mary Jaekels-Arzt and family of Phoenix AZ.


Tom’s life will be celebrated at a memorial service January 9th, 2009, at 4:00 p.m. at the Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs, Dallas TX 75235.


One Response to Tom Jaekels, Rest in Peace

Clay Dove says: April 2, 2010 at 3:30 pm

I just heard of Tom’s passing yesterday. I met Tom while I worked on Prison Break. He always lit up the room just by being there. The world is a little dimmer without him but everyone who knew him was a lot better for it. Godspeed Tom!