Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tom Garber: 1942-2008

Anyone who attended, participated or watched any major parade in the last seven years in Cincinnati or (later) Hamilton County will most likely have seen two people in almost every one: 1) me and 2) Tom Garber (my uncle).

Both of us loved campaigning, and loved parades in particular.
And through all my years campaigning or parading while in office, amid so many wonderful campaign staff and volunteers, no one marched in more parades or campaigned and greeted people with more enthusiasm than Uncle Tom.

Campaigns are tiring. Parades are tiring. The crowded ones in particular are hard work. And the wet ones can be, well, very wet and very cold. Most people do a few, but then move on (understandably). Not Uncle Tom. Into his mid 60s, Uncle Tom almost never missed a parade. Amid many changing parts and people, he was the constant. The most reliable volunteer we had.
And he became someone that all other staff and volunteers would learn to count on, and would call for help. Not just to walk a parade. But to work it, and show others how to do the same. If we needed a driver, he drove; a banner carrier, he carried; someone to pass out bags, he passed out 1,000. And his enthusiasm rubbed off on everyone else.

Tom passed away last night after a tough bout with cancer, and after enduring more medical challenges over 35 years than any one person should have to shoulder.

Even with those challenges, he led life like he walked and worked those parades. Always reliable--and with energy and enthusiasm. He had fun. Loved meeting people, joking with people, having fun. And this great athlete faced and overcame decades of medical challenges and surgeries without an ounce of self-pity, and without any complaining. He personified strength--quiet, stoic strength.

Tom left this world with three wonderful children who are doing great things, and a loving companion in Elaine. We pray for them in particular as they mourn his passing.

But like the thousands of citizens he met along parade routes, he touched so many others with his energy, enthusiasm and love of life. And to those who knew that all that enthusiasm bounded forth despite underlying challenges and pains that he had to endure almost every day, he inspired us with his strength and resilience.

After leaving a profound mark on all that knew him, Uncle Tom, deeply loved by his family, will be sorely missed.


Mark Miller said...

Thanks for sharing your recollections of so great a man. I'm sure all us readers share your sorrow at his loss. We'll say some extra prayers for him and the family. Peace.

Anonymous said...

Commissioner Pepper, I have had the privilege of walking in parades with Uncle Tom. He was the one who could be counted on for parades & an assortment of jobs associated with running a campaign.

I am truly sorry for your loss. My list of the Class of 2008 has grown so large & Uncle Tom is included in my prayers as with the other "Great in 2008" heroes & icons I have honored & respected.

Prayers & best thoughts to you, the Garber Family, your family, & especially your Mom, Miss Francie. It's hard on the elderly & the middle aged at anytime to lose a family member. The holidays are devastating for such a loss.

Sincerest wishes & thoughts.

Linda Garber Gipson said...

Reading your remarks about Tommy (my closest cousin, being only a few months apart) brought a smile to my lips and tears to my eyes... all at the same time. Though too many miles and way too many years separated us, he remaines a constant light in my heart... for all the reasons you described. When I returned to Cincinnati some years back, after being gone since childhood, no one greeted me with more warmth and affection, or made me feel more welcome... and that I truly belonged to the family. He is in my heart and prayers now and forever, with so much love.

Anonymous said...

What an incredible, sincere smile - if it's any reflection of how he lived - he did it with all his heart. Sorry for your loss and the loss to the whole community.

Anonymous said...

Condolences from Mr and Mrs Abe and Edna Taylor. Mrs. Pepper was Tom's shinning light.....our prayers are with you and the Garber family. May God Bless you at this time of sorrow.

Anonymous said...

I was so surprised and saddened to hear about my cousin, Tom Garber departing this world. I haven't seen him much since we were teenagers in Georgian Bay, Canada. I always will remember his smile, his positive attitude, and his kind words for everyone. I saw him with Helen, when she was a newborn, and I could see so much pride and love in his eyes.

My heart goes out to his children, friends and relatives. He will be sorely missed, and we will remember him.

His cousin in California, Aimee Martha Woodward Quan

Anonymous said...

I met Tom through my dear friend, Elaine. I know how much she cared for him, and I know what a kind man, and a good person he must have been. He impressed me as the kind of person who had endured much and remained strong, determined and totally without self pity. I am so sorry to hear of his death, but feel he is finally without pain, and truly with God. With deepest sympathy,
Sharon Nelson

lonnie said...

Commissioner Pepper and Francie,

I am very sorry that tom passed away. He was a good man and always smiling, he was a pleasure to talk to and could discuss any subject with you. I met Tom when I was helping out with the Clinton campaign at Francie's house and Tom brought me a magazine to help me find a new car and he explained the best and worst car's and the most reliable.I know he was Franie's world and he will be missed. My heart goes out to his children, Francie, David and his entire family.

Tammy Pitzer said...

Oh David....what beautiful words on behalf of Tom. You said it exactly the way he is and I am glad that that will give all a broader picture of who quiet Tom really was.

He was my friend.

Love, Tammy

Carrie W. Lee said...

Thanks for sharing, David! I know Tommy from Georgian Bay as a cousin, and will always remember him for his quick wit and smile! He was one of those handsome, "older" Garber cousins whom I really looked up to. As the years passed, I remember him very distinctly from one of our Cincinnati reunions, as not haveing seen me in some time, he wanted to know all about my family, how old the kids were, etc, etc. He always stopped by the cottage to spend time visiting with my parents and whomever else happened to be there. Always interested in others, and as David has mentioned, never complaining.Come to think of it, this all reminds me of my dad, and his cousin Tom Woodward, Sr. Quite a complement!

I want to send notes to Tom's family, and will start with Helen and Francie, but have no clue where to go from there. I will try calling one of them to help out.
In the meantime, you will all be in my thoughts and prayers.

With deepest sympathy,

Carrie Woodward Lee

PS Heaven must be overjoyed, and a real blast to have Tommy there now!

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