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August 6, 1951 - August 24, 2021
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THOMAS X. HIETPAS
MERRITT ISLAND, Florida —Thomas Xavier Hietpas, 70, went to be with the Lord on Tuesday, August 24, 2021, at Rockledge Regional Hospital.
Thomas was born on August 6, 1951 to Giles and Anne Hietpas of Kimberly, Wisconsin. Tom was known for his amazing work ethic, his loyalty to friends and family, and his creative ability. Tom began working at a young age, delivering newspapers and working at a supper club where he had to hitchhike to work. After high school, Tom left Wisconsin to attend the Culinary Institute of America where he honed his skills to become the executive chef at the Kaleidoscope Restaurant in Miami before coming to Brevard. This led to a successful career as a renowned chef and restaurateur in Brevard County. In 1981, Tom opened the The Black Tulip Restaurant and ran it successfully with his partner, Daniel Colzani, for the next 25 years. During this time, Tom also opened The Chef’s Corner and The Pasta Garden (restaurant and gourmet shop) in Cocoa Village, The Black Swan in Satellite Beach, and The Palm Café at the Kiwi Tennis Club.
Tom carried his passion for the culinary profession into the classroom as the first culinary teacher for Titusville High School. For the next ten years, Tom shared his culinary talents and humor with the students. He was a respected colleague and role model to the students who lovingly referred to him as “Chef”. Chef Hietpas’s students received many culinary awards. Tom was a past winner of the Florida Association for Career and Technical Education’s (FACTE) Outstanding Teacher in Community Service award. In addition, Tom was nominated by his colleagues as Teacher of the Year. After retiring from Brevard County Schools, Tom enjoyed one last job as a marine upholsterer at Sea Ray Boats on Merritt Island.
Tom was a leader and shared his talents with the community and with friends. He was a former president of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association Education Foundation and was active in the American Culinary Federation and the Brevard County Culinary Advisory Committee.
Tom was a well-respected and loved member of Calvary Chapel of Merritt Island. Tom had a heart for the ministry, serving in many capacities. He participated in a mission trip to Russia; he provided breakfast for the Men’s Fellowship each week; and he catered many events at Calvary Chapel of Merritt Island. His most valuable lessons to his children were to wait and trust in the Lord, and He will provide; tomorrow is a brand-new day.
Tom was a man of many talents – a chef, entrepreneur, teacher, craftsman, hobbyist, and in his children’s opinion, a comedian. Tom was blessed with remarkable artistic ability. From outstanding watercolor paintings to innovative furniture building, Tom was a master creator. Tom’s hobbies included fly fishing, boating, painting and building. He was a people person and enjoyed spending time with friends and family. Tom had a great sense of humor which was enjoyed by all who knew him. He will be dearly missed.
Those left to cherish his memory include his children, Allison and Andrew Hietpas and granddaughter Jayne, his sisters Pam Heidbreder (Warren), Gwendoline Jansen (Donald) and Rebecca Ploederl (Michael), and brothers Giles Hietpas, (Susan), Daniel Hietpas (Donna), Steven Hietpas (Sherry) and Lee Hietpas (Mary), and many nieces and nephews, as well as special friend and mother of his children, Laura Waszmer Anania.
He is preceded in death by his wife, Katherine Brown Hietpas, and his parents.