by Gus Danks | GCHS Alumnus Class of '63
(reprinted from The Maryan 1963 yearbook)
Tom was my English teacher at Gloucester Catholic High School in South Jersey fifty-five years ago. He died last week at the age of eighty-one. He graduated first in his class at Villanova many years ago and came back for a few years to his former high school to teach us and to serve as an excellent role model.
I told Tom on a few occasions that he was the best teacher I ever had - in high school or in college. He was an excellent lecturer and an elevating presence to students like me, who surely were in need of some elevation. He continued in teaching for many years at Moorestown High School before moving into the real estate industry.
I've written eight books. I owe Tom, and an English teacher I had at Seton Hall, Robert Eschbacher, great credit for helping me improve my writing. I still have a way to go, but how far I've gotten facing the keyboard is due in large part to their help and inspiration.
Ironically, I just published my latest, and very likely my last book, It's a Matter of Life and Death: Growing Up in a Funeral Home and What I Learned Since. I would have loved to have given Tom a copy to reinforce what he did for me many years ago, but unfortunately I have missed that opportunity by a few weeks.
It's often been said about teachers that they exercise their craft not knowing what effects their efforts might produce - throwing the literal stone into the pond, not knowing how many ripples it might make and how far they would go in enhancing the life of others. I want Tom and his family to know that his career in teaching, like that of so many others, is still having an effect on those of us now in our seventies. Tom left a wonderful legacy, as so many other teachers have done, and continue to do on a daily basis, often unbeknownst to them.
Relatives and friends are invited to the Visitation and Funeral on Wednesday, November 14 from 7 to 9 PM and Thursday, November 15 from 10 to 11 AM at the Church of the Holy Eucharist, 344 Kresson Road in Cherry Hill, where a Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 AM. Interment will follow at St. Joseph's Cemetery in Chews Landing.
Memorial donations may be made in his name to Poor Clare Monastery, 1271 Langhorne-Newtown Road, Langhorne, PA 19047.