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NASA-FireMany have asked for a copy of the eulogy I gave in honor of my dad, Roger Tome.  My dad filled a room with laughter, energy, and love. It warms my heart to know that in his final tribute, we all were laughing. Here’s to keeping those wonderful memories alive.

Click here to watch the video of his life – Roger Dale Tome: the life of a legend

As my dad would say, “I don’t want to confuse you with the facts” but let me take a few minutes to tell you a little bit about my dad.

My dad was fearless.
Unless it came to riding Space Mountain.

My dad has never once been late. to anything. In fact, throughout this whole process, the only thing he would not have liked – other than all the attention – is that we have been late for every deadline and appointment since Monday night.

My dad was a firefighter, so you could count on him to keep Dunkin Donuts in business. Every single morning on his way to work, he would order a small cup of coffee in a paper cup and ask for an extra cup and extra napkins, just in case. I’m not sure what he planned to do with all those extra cups, because he would then make a pot of coffee and proceed to reheat the same paper cup in the microwave until the seam of the cup split, making a giant mess. Thus the reason for the extra napkins. My dad was always prepared.

My dad believed in safety first. This meant unplugging a coffee pot once you were finished, absolutely no sparklers on fourth of July, a virtual prohibition of extension cords, and tying your Christmas tree to the wall so it wouldn’t fall down and catch the whole house on fire.

My dad believed no one could ever be too prepared. During the holidays, he made multiple visits with the Publix store manager to confirm that christmas trees or pumpkins would be delivered. They day they arrived, you could count on him to have one at your doorstop. Even if that meant a pumpkin in September.

My dad would find every penny, nickel, or dime that has ever been dropped, with genuine elation pick it up, and tell everyone about the treasure he just found. Nothing could top finding a bi-centennial quarter. To him, it was like finding a pot of gold. My dad knew how to find joy in the simple things.

My dad wore black patent leather shoes. Even with shorts.

My dad refused to have the newspaper delivered because he wouldn’t be able to buy it from a person and chat. Online bill pay? Forget about it. He knew every cashier, every bagger, every bank teller by name. My dad loved people more than efficiency. And no matter who you were, he made you feel like you were the most important person in the world. He would find out where you were from, ask what brought you to Orlando, and learn about your family – all within seconds of meeting you. And then he would never forget it.

My dad never once used the curbside drop-off or pick-up at the airport. He would sooner get the streets paved in Windermere than pick up his family from the curb. He usually arrived at the airport before you had even left the departing city, waiting on a bench, coffee in hand, just in case you caught an earlier flight.

My dad worked at NASA, the place where they put a man on the moon, and yet he carried a beeper ten years after the last one was sold. We would be eating at a restaurant and the alarm would go off at a deafening pitch because he never knew how to turn the volume down. But even off-duty, you could count on him to check in with the shift to make sure everything was okay.

My dad’s favorite place was the front yard swing. He could sit out there for hours, simply enjoying the outdoors and talking to every person who walked by. One of my favorite memories as a kid is curling up with lots of blankets and snuggling up to him on the swing and taking a nap together.

My dad’s favorite phrase was “T.P.A. Think – Plan – Act.” This procedure was in no way limited to his time on duty. Always prepared for any emergency situation, you could count on my dad to have dozens of additional rolls of toilet paper at any time. With all the stores closed on Christmas Day, he bought a 4-pack on Christmas Eve, because you just don’t want to run out of that stuff. And don’t get him started on Congress stopping the sale of 100-watt incandescent light bulbs. If that’s not an emergency situation, I don’t know what is.

With my dad, what you see is what you get. He had no pretenses and never felt the need to impress anyone. He wore a clip-on tie to church every Sunday and if you walked too close to his triple-starched plaid shirt, you were liable to slice your arm. But if you did, you could be sure he would make you elevate it and apply pressure.

My dad is the most humble man I have ever known. Only in death have I learned of his achievements. This week, the amount of people who have come up and said, “Your dad was there when I was sick.” “Your dad was there when my child was hurt. I don’t know what I would have done without him” or “Your dad just knew and called 9-1-1” and the most extraordinary of all “Your dad saved my life.”

On Thursday, we met the firefighters who worked to save my dad. Their dedication to one of their own is extraordinary. The courage, the bravery, the intensity of a firefighter is unparalleled. Thank you.

My dad would move heaven and earth for his family. Not one single day did I ever doubt that he loved me. I never worried about “what if?” because I knew my dad would be there. I could count on him to take care of me and protect me. Always. No matter what.

It is a remarkable experience to be the recipient of so much love.

My dad devoted his life to the service of others. His faith was simple but profound: Love God, Love others. That’s all that ever mattered to him. He invested well in people and just look at this return. He has left us all with an extraordinary legacy.

My dad is my hero.