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Thread: The true source of VFTT

  1. #1
    Poobah Emeritus darren's Avatar
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    The true source of VFTT

    Various issues have kept me off of the site lately, but this is a story that I feel needs to be told. So the history lesson begins.

    Where to start…back the old days I guess. I’m the youngest of six kids. That gave me the benefit of having older brothers and sisters that could teach me things. Their experience made me wise beyond my years...although if you asked them they would probably say that I was just a wise ass.


    Tommy's 17th birthday
    l-r Tommy, Linda, Craig, Rick, Jan, me

    Although my sisters gave me invaluable knowledge on how to do things and get away without be caught by my parents, my brother Tommy turned into EF Hutton for me – when he spoke I listened. He was 15 years older than me and was an electrical engineering student when I was just a little boy. He taught me to use his calculator when I was only 4 or 5. He trusted me to use his 8 track player and headphones, and I was amazed to hear his stories about the mainframe computer at college. The memories are a little hazy, but they remain.

    I had always loved playing outdoors, but Tommy opened my eyes to a world of possibilities. When I was 14, I spent nearly the whole summer with Tommy. He had graduated college in 76 and left Southeastern Mass to work and live in Utica, NY. I spent a week with him at his apartment and then we set off on a month long adventure to the Canadian Rockies. We drove all the way across Canada, explored the Canadian Rockies, and then went down to Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and then back across the States. We never had an agenda. We just drove where we wanted and stopped where we wanted to spend some time. We camped, hiked, canoed, and went white water rafting and snorkeling. After the trip I spent another week in Utica before returning home.



    Me and Tommy on the trail



    Deck with a view



    Me and Tommy taking the easy way up in a gondola

    Tommy spent a lot of his free time in the Adirondacks. He was always hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, snorkeling, xc skiing, or white water rafting. He shared his passion for outdoor activities with me, but it was never forced it on me. He always asked me “what do you want to do?” During our Canadian Rockies adventure he would always give me the maps and ask “where should we go next?” and when we got there he would ask “what do you want to do here?” and then give me the guide book and let me pick a trail.



    Yes, we wore cotton and jeans...it was the 80's

    He taught me to snorkel and how to hold my breath. At my best I could hold my breath for 1.5 minutes, but that was only half of what Tommy could do…3 minutes. He was half fish. He was like that though, he was a master of everything that he did. He designed and built a custom Victorian home – with every detail perfectly planned out, right down to the angles of the rising and setting sun during different seasons.



    What are you looking at?




    Me, our nephew Michael, and Tommy out for a paddle

    Tommy introduced me to the world of electronics and led me down the path of electrical engineering, although once again never pushing it on me. At 15 I was designing and building circuits in the basement. If I had a question, Tommy would give me 10 times the information I needed. He would buy books and magazines and mail them to me. He loaned me a computer for an entire summer. He always went out of his way to help me. 15 years after Tommy did, I graduated from the same school with the same electrical engineering degree.

    VFTT came from my love of both the outdoors and technology. It is a direct result of the influence Tommy had on me. Learn, enjoy, share.

    This past weekend, Tommy lost his long fight with illness at the age of 56. He never gave up and fought to the end. These few pages do not scratch the surface of what Tommy did for me and what he meant to me, but I just felt that part of the story needed to be told.



    Tommy is survived by his daughter Katey, and wife Sarah


    Aloha Tommy, you will always be loved and missed.

    Your little brudda
    Kūlia i ka nu‘u

  2. #2
    Senior Member ADKdremn's Avatar
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    Heart-wrenching, but amazing story! So sorry for your loss. You are fortunate to have so many truely amazing memories....hold on to them in this difficult time.
    Again, sorry for your loss.

  3. #3
    Senior Member MichaelJ's Avatar
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    My sincerest condolences. He is clearly remembered well and proudly, and will live on in many hearts.
    May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. - Edward Abbey

  4. #4
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    My condolences Darren, I was hoping your tough stretch was behind you when we got together at the last gathering. Sounds like we all missed out on meeting quite an individual.

  5. #5
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    Thank you for sharing this Darren. We are so sorry for your loss.

  6. #6
    Senior Member erugs's Avatar
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    I so appreciate your sharing some of your life with your brother and the way you two interacted. Good lessons for us all and I'm sure some of the attributes you told us about will be passed along through the telling. Sending good thoughts your way, for you and your family during this most challenging time.
    Ellen

    Volunteer Maintainer: East Pond Trail

    "Through winter-time we call on spring/And through the spring on summer call/And when abounding hedges ring/Declare that winter's best of all/And after that there's nothing good/Because the spring-time has not come... William Butler Yeats

  7. #7
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    Our most sincere condolences Darren. Tommy sounded like one heck of a guy.
    J&J

  8. #8
    Moderator David Metsky's Avatar
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    I'm so sorry for your loss. Thank you for taking the time to share with us when you are dealing with this.
    You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself, any direction you choose. -- Dr. Seuss

  9. #9
    Senior Member Puck's Avatar
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    Amazing story. so sorry for your loss. He sounds like he is an amazing, unique man.

  10. #10
    Senior Member marty's Avatar
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    Darren,

    what a beautiful story about a very unique relationship. Sounds like your big brother was an amazing person. My condolences to you.

    Marty
    So when you reach the bottom line
    The only thing to do is climb
    Pick yourself up off the floor
    Anything ya want is yours


    Song: Bottom Line
    Artist: Big Audio Dynamite
    Album: This is Big Audio Dynamite
    Year: 1985

  11. #11
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    Our condolences, Darren. Thanks for the history lesson... it is a good one.

    Tim and family
    Bike, Hike, Ski, Sleep. Eat, Fish, Repeat.

  12. #12
    Senior Member una_dogger's Avatar
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    What a beautiful tribute, Darren. His profound impact on you is evident in everything you wrote and each wonderful memory and picture you've shared.
    So sorry. Godspeed, Tommy.
    ADK 46'r NE115'r NEHH NH 48 x 6 NH48W NH 331/576
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  13. #13
    Senior Member SAR-EMT40's Avatar
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    My sincerest condolences Darren. I am very sorry for your loss but also consider yourself lucky you had such a mentor in your life.

    Keith
    "The real work of men was hunting meat. The invention of agriculture was a giant step in the wrong direction, leading to serfdom, cities, and empire. From a race of hunters, artists, warriors, and tamers of horses, we degraded ourselves to what we are now: clerks, functionaries, laborers, entertainers, processors of information."- Ed Abbey

  14. #14
    Senior Member spider solo's Avatar
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    Darren sorry to hear of your brothers passing, he sounded like a heck of a nice fellow to take you under his wing and all.
    Very nice writing of what he meant to you and how it all fits together with this website.
    Thanks for letting us know.
    Many condolences to the rest of your family as well.
    "you've got to stand for something
    or...you'll fall for anything"

  15. #15
    Senior Member Fisher Cat's Avatar
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    Thanks for getting right to the root of what makes family and friends, the relationships we share, so valuable to us. Its sad to be mortal, its unique to be loved, and have the opportunity to show love as well.

    Deepest sympathies on the loss to both you and his wonderful family.
    " by reason of much foule weather and Extreme Bad Woods to travel in.."- From the letter of my great uncle Samuel Willard (accompanied by my grandfather Henry) to Governor Dummer on August 16, 1725, explaining the reason for his return, being instructed to "range all the country", of the Wawobadenik (White Mountains) July 19-August 16, 1725. I am a 13th generation New Englander and proud of it.

    LIVE FREE OR DIE - DEATH IS NOT THE GREATEST OF EVILS
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