My friend Tom was out here in Los Angeles just a few weeks ago and began feeling unwell. He thought it was food poisoning, and opted to return home to Maine early. His illness turned out to be something much more serious; he had an inoperable, malignant tumor in his brain stem.
After his return home, Tom and I would not get another chance to speak. We traded a couple of e-mails as they struggled to diagnose his condition, but that would be all.
I met Tom about ten years ago when he became a member of the PopTech working group. He would ultimately succeed me as PopTech’s president and became the organization’s first CEO. He brought a level of polish and professionalism to the conference that helped it reach a new level and more fully realize its promise. His ability to so deftly manage all of us – a spicy mix of egos, personalities, and so on – qualifies him as a diplomat of the highest order.
He was generous with his sharp entrepreneurial mind, selflessly serving as a guiding force and sounding board to me through several business and other challenges, and he became a good friend.
I once teased Tom that when I first met him, I didn’t like him – but after working with him and getting to know him, I changed my mind. He replied, “that’s funny – because for me, you were the opposite.” Tom had a wonderful sense of humor – even in the most challenging of times – and I’m sure it helped carry him through these tough few weeks.
Tom was blessed to spend those weeks at home, supported and surrounded by his loving family.
Tom died last night.
He was a proud husband and dad. He is survived by – and lives on through – his wife Valerie, daughter Chloe, and son Remy.
Tom loved the outdoors and knew how to take advantage of Maine summers that are glorious, unpredictable, and often way too short. Life can be that way, too.
Ride on, Tom. You will be missed.