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  • Tom Elliott

    Here's the Eulogy that I wrote and gave at Tom's Funeral.




    Thank you all for coming to honor our Tom. For those of you that don't know me, my name is Matthew Burnette and to say that Tom and I were friends would be quite an understatement. More times than not, he would never introduce me to someone as "Matthew", but instead he would say "This is my adopted son."

    Tom loves his Studebakers. In fact, that's how I met him. I grew up in a family of Studebaker owners and as a child, my grandparents would take me to car shows.

    In late 2008, I was wanting to visit a friend on the West Coast. I had no idea what to do, but I knew of some guy named Tom that worked for an airline. I called him up and he said it'd be no problem getting me a ticket. Well, the trip never happened. But our conversations about that led to him calling me in the Spring of 2009. He was having a Studebaker gathering at his home and invited me to attend. So, I did. He had only been diagnosed with ALS a couple of months before. The connection we had was instantaneous, and what was initially a weekend visit turned into a whole week. His family quickly took me in as one of their own and made me feel like I belonged.

    Over the next two years, Tom and I traveled all over the country together to car shows. One that I want to mention was a big show in Iowa in the summer of 2009. Tom drove out, but wanted me to "Get my wings wet" and fly as I'd never done that before. I wasn't opposed and Maureen drove me to the airport. After a five hour delay in Atlanta, I finally arrived in Iowa at 3:00 AM. Tom was there waiting for me and when I got in the truck, he said "I know you're hungry, so I ordered us a pizza and it's waiting at the hotel." When we walked in the room, I opened the pizza box and found it empty. He looked at me and said, "Oh yea. I ate it all." Being too tired to care, I crawled into bed and my head hit against two coffee mugs he had stuffed in my pillow case. To know Tom was to love him and he was always the comedian.

    Tom was born August 26, 1955. Delta Airlines kept him employed for 34 years. He didn't like his job. He loved it. Tom truly cared for every one of those guys he worked with on the ramp. His Delta stories were always positive and told with a smile. He worked all the overtime he could so as to provide a comfortable life for his family. I'd say he did a pretty great job.

    I never had the pleasure of meeting his first wife, Cathy, but she must have been quite special. Together they had two children, Lisa and Tom Jr. Both of which I am proud to know.

    After Cathy's untimely passing, Tom met a woman named Maureen. They were married and she brought into his life three more children, Brad, Alyssa and Jessica. He loved and raised them as his own and he was obviously quite proud of who they all grew up to become.

    As mentioned earlier, Tom lived his last two years with ALS. Even though it really is a horrible disease, I feel it brought out a better person in Tom and everyone around him. Every day was a new battle and he faced them with courage, and a smile. He was very adamant about beating ALS, and in the end he did. What took his life was a birth defect in his heart. Tom is a true hero, and he didn't let ALS win him over.

    One of Tom's recent, but closest friends is another ALS Soldier named Tony Blanton. I'm still wondering who won the wheelchair races. The night after Tom's passing, Tony sent me a quote that I think sums things up pretty well. And it goes -

    "Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while, and leave foot prints on our hearts. And we are never, ever, the same."

    MB.

  • #2
    Very moving Matt - thanks for sharing. I have a good friend who was recently diagnosed with ALS - an awful disease to be sure.
    Mark Hayden
    '66 Commander
    Zone Coordinator
    Pacific Can-Am Zone

    Comment


    • #3
      Make sure your friend is aware of the ALS Association and the various other organizations. Help and support isn't far away.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by mbstude View Post
        Make sure your friend is aware of the ALS Association and the various other organizations. Help and support isn't far away.
        Yes, he has learned an awful lot about ALS in the past 6 months (as have I through our friendship).
        Mark Hayden
        '66 Commander
        Zone Coordinator
        Pacific Can-Am Zone

        Comment


        • #5
          Matthew; A very moving and thoughtful response to Tom's family and friends about your relationship and what it meant to you. You have my condolences.

          This type of event happens to each one of us sometime in life. I was a good friend of Sam Miller, renonwn Studebaker nut in Virginia that I knew for twenty plus years. It's hard to assess the impact he had on me and my knowledge and love of all things Studebaker. He was a person who was a true friend in all ways. He died a horrible death from throat cancer, but he left a legacy in Virginia that many of us relate to and talk about after eight years. As long as there are Studebakers in Virginia, there'll be Sam Miller.

          I'm sure as long as there are Studebakers in Georgia, there will be Tom Elliot and he will live on in your life and the life of the Studebaker community there.

          Thanks for sharing with us.

          Frank Drumheller
          Locust Grove, VA

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by studelark View Post
            Matthew; A very moving and thoughtful response to Tom's family and friends about your relationship and what it meant to you. You have my condolences.

            This type of event happens to each one of us sometime in life. I was a good friend of Sam Miller, renonwn Studebaker nut in Virginia that I knew for twenty plus years. It's hard to assess the impact he had on me and my knowledge and love of all things Studebaker. He was a person who was a true friend in all ways. He died a horrible death from throat cancer, but he left a legacy in Virginia that many of us relate to and talk about after eight years. As long as there are Studebakers in Virginia, there'll be Sam Miller.

            I'm sure as long as there are Studebakers in Georgia, there will be Tom Elliot and he will live on in your life and the life of the Studebaker community there.

            Thanks for sharing with us.

            Frank Drumheller
            Locust Grove, VA
            Well thought-out and well-spoken, Matthew. Just the right length, too!

            Frank: Know that the Sam Miller plaque remains with the 1964 Daytona convertible, permanently affixed on the inside of the glove compartment door. BP.
            We've got to quit saying, "How stupid can you be?" Too many people are taking it as a challenge.

            Ayn Rand:
            "You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."

            G. K. Chesterton: This triangle of truisms, of father, mother, and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it.

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