I first met Tom on a golf course in Fargo shortly after he moved to Fargo, N.D. in the summer after sixth grade. We became best friends through high school. We were in a close group of friends throughout college, but we roomed together only our junior year at Carleton. We subsequently stayed together at most of our re-unions to catch up. I was crushed when I heard he had died suddenly while on the computer playing a game, though for Tom, that could have been a likely activity at any time. He was a master at all games – chess, bridge, scrabble (he had memorized the dictionary), golf, etc. He had written a book on game theory. His handwriting looked like calligraphy. His ability to organize thoughts on paper was phenomenal. I have a life time of memories with Tom that I will never again be able to replay or reminisce about, that died when he died. And will probably never find someone that enjoyed arguing about philosophical issues late at night as much as I did. Socrates (I believe) said that you shouldn’t marry until 27. Tom didn’t date, but got married at 27 to a former grade school classmate. He also decided early on at Carleton that he couldn’t bring children into this world. He and Pat never did. From the outside, they had a remarkable marriage and shared interests. I can only empathize with her over her loss with his death.
I was very much saddened to learn today of the deaths of Roy Bartrum, Bill Vavrinek, Tom Cook, and many other class of ’65 classmates.
I remember Roy and Bill as pretty quiet and unassuming. Tom Cook was cut from different cloth, vivacious, active, and even argumentative at times (maybe that’s why he became a philosophy major, switching from science in his junior year). I had a 33-rpm vinyl record of foot-stomping Irish songs recorded by the Clancy Brothers, and Tom used to study to this music at high volume during the afternoons, which drove the rest of us crazy (we all shared a quad room on the first floor of Burton Hall). Fortunately, Tom would turn the volume down if we requested it, but mostly we found other places to study.
Contrary to his bookish appearance, Tom was a fine golfer and played for the Carleton team in the spring. I caddied for him one day when the wind was blowing pretty hard, maybe 15 miles an hour. Tom’s opponent from another small college teed up on the first hole and hit a powerful drive 300 yards or so, just short of the green. Not to be outdone, Tom wound up like a coiled spring and hit a massive shot that overdrove the green some 350 yards away, surprising both of us. Unfortunately, at that point we found out that caddies were not allowed in collegiate contests, and I had to leave the course so I never did find out (or perhaps I’ve forgotten) who actually won the competition that day, but it made for an exciting afternoon.
Tom and I were roommates freshman year, and remained friends through college. As was noted above, he loved game-playing of all kinds, and excelled at most of them. As a non-golfer, I played many many hours of bridge, skat, euchre and hearts with him. And pick-up basketball. It’s sad to hear that he’s died so soon.