This is Gary Grady, Tom’s older brother. I am very sorry to say that Tom died at home September 15.
As he mentioned on this blog, in March of 2015 he was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a particularly deadly type of brain cancer. He initially responded well to treatment, experiencing few side effects, but earlier this year the tumor began to grow again and he was hospitalized for a few weeks in July. He kept apologizing for being a burden, saying that he was the youngest and he should be taking care of us. Finally he was placed in home hospice care and after a steady decline he finally simply stopped breathing. Toward the end it was very difficult for him to express himself, but he still got jokes and smiled and laughed.
Tom was a life-long athlete and sports enthusiast who played on the longest-lasting recreational softball team in his area. As a volunteer he officiated at basketball games and coached youth soccer. One of his teams, the Pink Panthers, gained the state championship for girls in their age group, but he emphasized enjoyment and sportsmanship over winning. Once when officiating at a basketball game a young boy who had not scored a point all year had a free throw. The ball went in, but the boy stepped a bit over the line. Determined not to take away his one point, Tom pointed at the scorer’s table and said, “Count it!” This drew angry reactions from the other team and their supporters, but the coach later came to Tom and apologized, saying that after thinking about it he realized that Tom had done the right thing. The boy’s father told Tom, “You made my son’s year.”
Tom was fortunate enough to have his a dream job, becoming a sports and features writer for the Wilmington North Carolina Star-News newspaper. The sports editor wrote an excellent article about Tom you can read here.
Animals, especially pets, and more especially dogs, were his other great passion, and he wrote a column about pets for the newspaper, often arguing against cruelty, as he did for many years on this blog and his Facebook page.
A memorial service for Tom will be held Saturday, October 1, from 3:00 to 5:00 pm, on the softball field where he played for many, many years. Details can be found here.PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic