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Man who drowned in Lake Minnetonka remembered as 'Tonka Tom'

A GoFundMe page has been set up for the man's son.

The man who drowned in Lake Minnetonka after being thrown from a boat is being remembered as "Tonka Tom," someone with a passion for lake life who was always willing to lend a helping hand, according to a GoFundMe page set up for his son.

Thomas Walter Lang, 64, of Chanhassen, was boating with another man on Lake Minnetonka's Gideon's Bay on May 4 when they encountered rough waters and were thrown from the boat, the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office said. Lang drowned, while the other boater swam to a buoy where he was rescued by another boater. They were not wearing life jackets.

"Tom was the nexus for a large, overlapping circle of business associates and close friends. Well known within the Lake Minnetonka community and through his small business, 'Tonka Tom' was a collegial figure who was always willing to lend a helping hand," the GoFundMe page, which was set up on Thursday, said. "Whether it was through his passion for sailing, fishing, skiing, or engineering a new idea, Tom brought people together."

Lang is survived by a son, Gabe, and a "large community" of friends and a blended family "who loved him dearly," the page said.

The GoFundMe has a goal of raising $20,000 to offset funeral and estate expenses, noting donations will go "directly to Gabe."

People are encouraged to share a memory of Lang on the GoFundMe page, which notes a memorial service will be held at a later date.

The GoFundMe page was posted in a popular Facebook group dedicated to Lake Minnetonka, where people have been commenting with their memories of Lang. 

One commenter said they will miss seeing him out on the lake, remembering one time their boat had problems and Lang helped pull them to shore. 

Others also recalled moments when Lang helped them out, with a commenter calling him "one of the most genuine people I was honored to have known," adding he was "honest and to the point" and fun to talk with.

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