I regret to inform my listeners that “Tom from Garfield Heights” has lost his battle with cancer. Long time “loyal listeners” heard his name weekly for many years. I began “the Innocent Age” approximately 10 years ago, and Tom found out about the show in April, 1989 at Steve Petryszyn’s Parma Record Convention. He was excited about the show, but lived too far North of the station to be able to pick it up. Later that year, we started broadcasting on the Internet, but Tom didn’t have a computer. I sent him 2 cassettes every week for almost three years. He would listen to the show and call me with his comments, which included his favorites and most shows contained at least 10 or 12 tunes he had never heard before. That pattern continued week after week. He came over a few times, and we would spend the entire time sharing music, just as I usually did with Steve and Frank Kramer. Tom had the same passion for this music as the three of us did and it was a joy seeing the twinkle in his eye when he heard those “songs you should have heard” for the first time.
Tom had a fairly extensive collection of 45’s that he kept buying into the late 80’s. Ironically, our mutual taste seemed to match as we talked about 70’s and 80’s music we liked as well. Work schedules and family demands kept us from getting together very often, but we talked on the phone often. If I found a really good CD, I’d let him know and he would go to the same store and buy it on my suggestion. He was a good and genuine man. I was devastated when I heard he had been diagnosed with cancer. Not because I didn’t think he could beat this horrible disease, but because he simply didn’t deserve the pain and fear it takes to deal with it. My wife has been cancer free for five years, but Steve Petryszyn lost his wife Sher after a five year battle.
I didn’t have much contact with Tom’s wife Liz other than to speak with her on the phone, but she knew how much music meant to Tom. Tom’s entire family was with him the day he died. While I never got a chance to say goodbye, his daughter Kimberly told me one of my shows was playing in the background when he passed.
I will miss Tom’s passion. When I told him I wanted to some “nostalgia” on the station which included some vintage commercials if I could find them. He called me back a few days later and read off over a hundred he thought would work. I was able to find about 70 of those and the comprise the backbone of my “nostalgic” cuts.
Last year about this time, I brought him a tray of candy bars to keep his strength up. Tom and I both shared a fondness for “Sky Bars” – a candy bar from our youth. I found a place locally where I could buy a box of 24 took them over to him for Halloween. I told his wife Liz that if she visits Tom at the cemetery and finds a Sky Bar, she’ll know I stopped by to say hello to him.
I am dedicating the Innocent Age running from November 10th through the 16th to Tom’s memory. All the songs I’ll play on that show will be Tom’s favorites over the 9 years he listened to the show. I’m hoping when people hear these songs in the future they’ll think of “Tom from Garfield Heights”…..