• 18 Nov 2010 /  Misc

    There was a time before I knew Tom but that is difficult to recall. It seems that I have always known Tom but logic says that I met him in 19982 when I walked into his fly fishing shop on Grand Avenue. Bright Waters was not your normal retail establishment nor was Tom your normal retailer. The store always seemed short on inventory with some part of it always needing to be merchandised. While Sam Walton had his sundown rule concerning work, which was to get everything done that day; Tom’s sundown rule was to leave no story untold until tomorrow. It must have been his newspaper background.

    Bright Waters was not in a prime location so his customers had to work to get there. Many of them decided that if they were going to make the hike they were going to stay around awhile. This turned the place from a store into a club house. Initiation into the club required a trip around the corner to a Vietnamese restaurant for an order of lemon grass. It also foreshadowed what I would find out was Tom’s second greatest passion after fly fishing, lunch.

    Tom once had an older customer in the shop who stated that he had a house on the Kinnickinnic River. Tom asked how he did fishing and the old man replied, “Well my freezer is full of trout.” Tom said that he would like to fish with the old man some time. The old man asked ‘why’? Tom dryly replied “So I can drown you.”

    In spite of the hurdles and the fact that Tom was more comfortable on the stream than behind the counter Bright Waters won a number of awards for sales growth from one of his suppliers. Bright Waters growth was so good that the supplier decided to open some stores of its own in the Twin Cities. That struggle eventually moved Tom to start Midwest Fly Fishing. His advocacy for the sport and the environment contained in his written body of work in Midwest Fly Fishing speak for itself. Tom was an eloquent writer who could capture a moment or an emotion.  On numerous occasions I suggested that he write a book because I thought that he had a story in him. He replied that it would be too hard.  I thought that he meant hard in the sense that it is sometimes difficult for a Scandinavian Lutheran to reveal himself and not hard in the writing.

    Tom spent over a year in the planning and designing the first Great Waters the fly fishing show. This is when Tom’s passion for lunch was confirmed.  Tom wanted the show to be a teaching moment. He communicated the desire to educate to all.  His desire to help Trout Unlimited and the support that he gave in the magazine and at the show were above and beyond the call of duty. That spirit turned Great Waters into a great event for learning the sport and protecting the resource where we participate.

    There is more that I could say in praise of Tom but I remember a comment he once made while we were fishing.  “Nice trailing loop!”  So I won’t let the line nor vocals get any more knotted tonight.

    A memorial service for Tom will be held on Saturday, November 20th, at 2 pm at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 700 Snelling Ave, So, St. Paul MN.