22 April, 2014

“If you remember me, then I don't care if everyone else forgets.”

“If you remember me, then I don't care if everyone else forgets.”
Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

Many people have posted beautiful reflections and memories of my dad, and I wanted to pull as many as I could together in one place. I don't know whether I'll stumble back to some of the sites (for instance, from our funeral home) in years to come, but I hope this blog will keep going for a long, long time. I especially want to leave my son with a truly rich portrait of his grandfather.

I compiled the following quotes from posts on the online obituary sites and facebook. I trust that everyone who posted will not mind my reprinting them here.

One thing I took away - as someone currently searching for my first academic job - is that I really wish I could have worked for my dad.


Frank Bergmann:
As one of Thom's associate deans at UC for some years, I came to appreciate his style of leadership. He did not micromanage but trusted those he worked with. Versed in the educational law of the State of NY, he knew how to satisfy Big Brother without compromising his personal or the college's institutional integrity. I do not remember this Virginia Cavalier ever to lose his cool, even when he had reason to be upset. His quiet and thoughtful demeanor was enlivened by a fine sense of humor. He looked for the good in people, and I learned to take his advice to "trust the group."

Given his health problems, he could not have been as successful as he was without the devotion of his wife Civita and his daughters Amy and Megan as well as the support of a wider circle of family, friends, and caregivers. He certainly did not waste his own or other people's time playing bureaucratic games; he saw, he thought, he consulted, he decided. And his word was good; rarely was there need of a paper trail.

A good man has left us; may the Lord bless him and his family.

Joann Marshall:
The world has lost a very kind and gentle man. Thom thank you for your many contributions to RCIL and the community we serve. Your many contributions will remain ever present here!

Girard Plante:
While a student at Utica College (1983-88), I met Dr. Brown as I began studying journalism. His interest in how students were faring as we began our 'UC Experience' was evident as he stopped to chat in the halls of Strebel Center and to welcome me to UC. I also grew to know well and admire Dr. Brown during my six-year (1986-92) tenure serving on the Board of Directors at the Resource Center for Independent Living.

As we moved along the same paths at UC and at RCIL, I saw a man whose courage of his convictions shone through every challenge that we encountered in serving people with disabilities and to ensure that RCIL be a steadfast voice within the community for people in need. And he is one of the dozen UC professors who supported my cause to bring safe and easy access for people with disabilities to UC. Rightful changes occurred largely because of the unwavering support and encouragement by Dr. Brown to plod along despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The barriers fell! Access achieved.

Dr. Brown harbored that pearl of wisdom which allowed him to innately know that doing nothing during crises of all manner, as well as confront life's inevitable challenges as opposed to looking the other way no matter the result, is no option. His quiet strength provided invaluable decision-making at both RCIL and during his brief interim stint as President of Utica College.

Because I knew Dr. Brown rather well from working alongside him at RCIL, I was elated and not surprised that of all the many worthy candidates being considered to fulfill the leadership role at UC, the Board of Trustees chose him to move the college along until the person with the 'right stuff' could be found to be its new president. Dr. Brown's moral and ethical attributes provided a seamless and successful transition at UC.

Paul and Jane Waszkiewicz:
Thom was always a thoughtful, kind man when ever we or I would run into him at the college.

John Rowe:
I was privileged to know Thom for only a few years at UC, coming in 2006. But what a great friend and inspiration he was to me! A true gentleman and scholar who would personify his daily life at UC with a photo each day of a tree...greatness in a humble symbol. That was Thom.

Patti and Joe Fariello:
We are remembering Thom as a dedicated and distinguished educator who shared the knowledge, love, and passion he had for his field with Utica College students since 1975. We were blessed to have known this kind and gentle man, and to be able to call him our friend.

Carol Downing:
Thom, you and I shared a fascination with the geese that would visit Utica College in the spring and fall. We both loved watching them approach and land - often expecting them to run into each other, and enjoying the ballet of these creatures that would announce their arrival with that honking sound that would cause us to look up to find the 'V.' You were the census taker, reporting on the goose population as well as the number of disgruntled seagulls wandering around the fringes of the flock. When our feathered visitors arrive this spring, and ask where you are, I will point to the sky - and they will understand.

Hartwell Herring:
Outside of both being College Professors and Southerners, one would think we would have had nothing in common. And we came to know each other, for me anyway, well past middle age. But we were friends and shared intellectual space that I find difficult to describe. Thom was also one of the most courageous people I ever knew. He had a lot of friends … I do not, and I will miss him ever day.

Gina Bernadette:
He LOVED his grandson, Finn, and his face would light up whenever I asked about him. He LOVED that little boy and loved being a granddad. Thom was a great man- my favorite at UC- not just as my former professor, but later as a colleague and friend. He loved his wife and daughters and was proud of all of their accomplishments. I will truly miss him and his smile. He was definitely a great guy!


Alan Nolan:
My mentor, my advisor, always my voice of reason, if there ever was a living heart, giving a hunger for learning, for intrigue, for research, for healthy skepticism, for the humor in all things, it was born anew in your presence. You gave me a vision for my life. You helped me struggle with my research, and gave me insights, even into my long days and nights, where the investment resulting in my hopes being thwarted by the results, discovered through my research. You said, "This is a good thing. You've contributed to the data pool." You never left me, or ever let me, down. I smile when I think that you could have used the available computer systems, but you took the long hours and built me a classic behaviorist's lab with the racks and racks of wires, switches, lights, and twitching pens scratching off red inked waves of frequencies on countless rolls of paper. You always gave me time, and in a moment, a special, defining moment of what a professor, a teacher, a mentor, a selfless man and a friend meant, you embraced me on stage at my graduation, knowing I was weak kneed and finding it hard to let of you, and UC. You urged me on, and as life would have it, your heart for teaching became my own. Your inspiration for research became my own. You generativity filled my heart to overflow for my own students. I love you, Thom. I always will. Time and distance has never changed that . . . it never will. many of my most cherished, great memories, are you. HAL 2000.

Rich Jackson:
I met Thom in my sophomore year at UC 76/77. Over the next 3 years Thom was not only my teacher, but a mentor, and friend. After graduation in 79, I moved away, and as is too often the case, years often separated the times we connected by phone. We exchanged messages, around New Years about getting together the next time I was In town, and before he retired. I just wanted to tell him what a difference he made in my life...so Thom ... Thank you for making a difference in my life; and as evidenced on this site; the life of everyone you touched. The world was a better place because of you.

Kassie Schaare:
Dr. Brown was one of my favorite professors at Utica College. You guided me throughout my college career, always supporting decisions that were made, even cheering me on by telling me to pursue my interests. You were the professor that I could truly say you were there to help students, no matter what the problem was. I also remember how you enjoyed my comments in class, such as becoming a horse thief, and bringing in bobble heads to class. After asking if he had a collection of famous psychologists bobble heads, he decided to bring one of Sigmund Freud in, and in my child-like manner, proceeded to make it bobble and run. He laughed, he always did have a laugh at my child-like manner. I'm going to miss him. I even enjoyed coming into your office yelling "WHAT'S UP, DR. BROWN?!" and talking about your Hard Rock cafe collection, artwork, and even just seeing how things were going.

Laurie Fazekas:
He was a wonderful professor and will be missed by so many.

Sarah Sorge:
Dr. Brown was an incredible professor and showed the same love he gave to his family in the love and devotion he gave to his friends, colleagues, and students. There are no words to show how much he'll be missed.

Professor, I'm literally speechless at losing you. I'm saddened, more empty, and the world is lesser without you. The best I can say is thank you, from one teacher to another, for making me a better person to those I meet and work with. I wouldn't have been the same without you!

Brianne Parent:
Dr. Brown was a truly memorable professor.

Caryn (Faby) Anatriello:
Dr. Brown was an amazing professor. He will be missed.

Sue Beaudoin Schober:
I graduated from Utica College in '82. Dr Brown was the professor of several classes I took. I always like him, he was a good teacher. I had an early morning summer class with him one year and was so afraid of falling asleep in class but Dr Brown kept the class lively and interesting.


Charlie Russ:
Despite all his medical issues I thought he would live forever. In the days leading up to our wedding, it was Betsy that finally convinced him to see a doctor about the lump on his neck that would prove to be Hodgkin's. At that time the published material indicated there was no cure. But Tommy, being Tommy, led a charmed life. He has always been a true and loyal friend, my best friend from childhood, and my daughter's Godfather. We mourn the loss and will miss him greatly.

Gene Cochran:
Thoms' wonderful presence projected so artfully through his postings will be sorely missed. To his family, Thom and I were good friends in high school although he defeated me in the election for Senior Class President. To this day I know he paid for those winning votes! You were lucky to have had such a great guy in your life. I know I was.

Gee Faison:
He was a class guy from when I met him in the 8th grade to the last posts before he died. His demeanor never belied his circumstance. My respect for him has risen, sadly, with his parting.

Brenda Lett Bacie:
Rest in peace Thom. You will be missed. You made a difference in this world. I will miss your pictures of your tree outside your office.

Adriene Joyce:
Thank you for all the knowledge and wisdom you have shared with us on your blog, Thom, as well as your support and encouragement of our endeavors in the blogging community. You will be missed even as you live on in our memory and in that beautiful tree outside your window that has stood the test of time.

Michael Baum:
I never met Dr. Brown. I only knew him by following and reading his blog for well over two years. Thom brought joy to my life through his funny, serious, insightful, and captivating posts. He made me smile with the jokes he posted; marvel at the beauty of his poetry; and think about the important issues he raised, especially the subject of disabilities. What I remember most about his posts is that through all the adversity, Thom saw himself as “a most fortunate man.” He was surely a man who saw and embraced the best in life and reveled in its love, its wonder, and its joys. I will miss his inspiration. When I read the post by one of his daughters that he has passed, I felt a loss and had tears in my eyes. Thom touched people he never met.

Sue Cooper:
To Thom's Girls: He loved the three of you so much. He relished in the fact that you were all so special and beautiful and bright. His life became so much wealthier when Finn arrived! His wit, humor and intelligence, his love of wine and his family he gained via marriage.......all of which he shared with all of us, will forever be remembered. Tree is a Woman! She is a beautiful remembrance of Thom's writings. I know you know how dear Thom is to me. A part of my heart died today.