Skip to main content

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.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-01-27 at 9.15.45 PM

Buckeyes crash the glass, fend off Gophers

E.J. Liddell dominated in the paint to help No. 16 Ohio State.

nicolas blouin flickr fire hose

Fire departments decry drivers running over hoses, endangering crews

It happened in two separate Northland cities this week.

All Energy Solar - Bringing Panels to Roof

All Energy Solar reaches growth milestones with higher goals yet for 2022

Minnesota solar company continues to thrive through building a strong workforce

Royal Canadian Mounted Police maintoba crossing crop

Authorities ID family found frozen to death at MN-Canada border

They're still trying to unravel how they got there and who might have helped them.


Mayo Clinic specialist: 'The omicron surge is not over'

Experts expect a rapid decline over the next month followed a period of calm.

police lights

Charges: Man in stolen Jeep leads police on 110 mph chase

He crashed into a light post near the Capitol and then fled on foot, the complaint says.

kua dog go fund me

Puppy in back of stolen Audi found, reunited with owner

The 4 1/2-month-old bullmastiff had been missing more than a week.

Fuzzy Gerdes Flickr Franks Diner Kenosha

WI's best 'hole-in-the-wall' diner is Guy Fieri-approved

Come for the "garbage pile," stay for ... even more breakfast food.


Minnesota's pre-pro women's soccer team unveils name, logo

The new name and look was unveiled after community owners voted on a winner.

fentanyl DEA

21 people charged in connection to drug trafficking in northern MN

Police say the organization sold more than 10 pounds of heroin and fentanyl in northern Minnesota.

Band Box Diner Courtney Mault Flickr

MN's 'best hole-in-the-wall diner' is, sadly, currently closed

MSN recently published its pick for best diner in each state.


Screen Shot 2021-07-03 at 8.01.03 AM

Man who drowned on Lake Minnetonka was due to become a father

Benjamin Garcia died after drowning on Lake Minnetonka Thursday evening.

hennepin county sheriff

Chanhassen man ID'd as boater who drowned on Lake Minnetonka

The boaters encountered rough waters on May 4. They weren't wearing life jackets.

Commons Beach, Excelsior

Man drowns while swimming at beach on Lake Minnetonka

It's the second death on the lake in as many days.

hennepin county sheriff water patrol lake minnetonka

Body recovered from Lake Minnetonka after swimmer went missing

The swimmer had jumped in the lake to help someone else who was struggling, but didn't get back on the boat.

jeylon holloway

13-year-old who drowned in Eagan lake is identified

Jeylon Holloway was bringing his dog for a walk when he fell into the lake.

loring park - minneapolis

Man's body recovered from Loring Park pond after apparent drowning

The man, who was apparently nude, had been seen struggling in the water before going under.

hennepin county sheriff

1 dead after boaters thrown overboard on Lake Minnetonka

The incident was reported just before 10:30 a.m.