Pastor Jeffrey Michael Tomberlin, 60, of McFarland, Wis., passed away Wednesday (June 26, 2019) at his home in McFarland, seven months after learning that he had Glioblastoma (brain cancer) in November 2018.

He was born Aug. 10, 1958, in Chicago Heights, the fourth and youngest child of Irene and John Tomberlin Jr. During his childhood, Jeff’s family lived in Park Forest, then moved to Peotone when he was six years old. It was there he made many good friends, including his future wife, Lisa Waterland. They began dating during his senior year of high school and married while in college on June 30, 1979, in Wyoming Valley, Wis., near Jeff’s family’s dairy farm.

Jeff graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Madison with a B.S. in agriculture, dairy herd management. While at the UW, Jeff made life-long friends and was always grateful that he had the opportunity to be a member of the UW 1978 Big Ten Championship Cross Country Team.

After marrying and farming for a few years, Jeff answered a call to go into the ministry. He moved his wife and three young children to Dubuque, Iowa, where he attended Wartburg Seminary for four years, including a practicum CPE in Orange County, Calif., and an internship at St. John Lutheran Church of Prairie Hill, Brenham, Texas. Jeff was ordained in 1989, in Elroy, Wis. His first congregation was Grace Lutheran Church in Petersburg, W.V.

Pastor Tomberlin returned to Wisconsin in 1992 to serve at Emanuel Lutheran Church in Brandon, Wis., followed by First English Lutheran Church in Oshkosh and then McFarland Lutheran Church in McFarland. Jeff then specialized in interim ministry and served eight different congregations in the South Central Synod, most recently St. Martin’s Lutheran Church of Cross Plains.

Surviving are his wife of 40 years, Lisa; and their children, Luke Tomberlin and wife, Alyssum, Jessica Kim and husband, Young Wan and Meghan Gross and husband, Josh; grandchildren, YooMi, Jade, Cedar, Scarlet, Noah, Mia and Lilian; his siblings, Jacquelyn Tomberlin and partner, Mary Myers, Carolyn Stewart and husband, Royce and John Tomberlin III and wife, Carolyn; his in-laws, Margaret Waterland, Mike Waterland and wife, Kim and Cindy Grubbs-Mahood and husband, Don Mahood; Dave Waterland and Steven “Bubba” Waterland; and many beloved nieces and nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews, cousins and close friends.

His parents preceded him in death.

Despite long term chronic health issues, Jeff loved his work as a pastor. He also enjoyed being a track and basketball coach. He had been an avid runner since he was a middle school student. He loved running in the UW arboretum during college and this continued to be his favorite place to run throughout the years. When he had free time, he liked woodworking, hiking and photography of mushrooms, watching sports and cooking. Most of all, Jeff enjoyed spending time with his family. He loved being with his children and grandchildren and thoroughly loved watching them grow.

Jeff and his family are “very grateful to all of the spiritual and medical professionals who have helped him, not only during his last illness, but in the many years preceding when dealing with chronic pain from a car accident.”

Visitation will be from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 2 atMessiah Lutheran Church, 5202 Cottage Grove Road, Madison, WI. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday, July 3, also at the church.

Memorials will be determined at a later date.

Please sign his online guestbook at


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