KEYSER - You find some very interesting things when you are sorting through 10+ years of stuff while getting ready to move your office.

By Liz Beavers
lbeavers@newstribune.info
Tribune Managing Editor
KEYSER - You find some very interesting things when you are sorting through 10+ years of stuff while getting ready to move your office.
In preparing for the move, I took on the job of going through a lot of the old files, papers, photos and other things that we had accumulated over the years. One thing I found, the photo accompanying this column, was very timely, as we had just lost one of our most beloved retired teacher/coaches and an all-around wonderful person - Tom O’Connor.
Tom was reunited with his partner-for-life Thelma when he left this earth on Feb. 13.
I did not have the privilege of being in any of his classes at Keyser High School, but I got to know him later in my capacity here at the paper, and my respect for him seemed to grow every time I spoke with him.
The time that stands out the most in my mind was the day I interviewed him for a story in the first Kelley Magazine we produced several years ago.
Tom and Ed Kelley had a very special friendship. They were born only five days apart, attended Boy Scouts together, and proudly word the Golden Tornado jersey as teammates on the football field.
According to Tom, the two of them knew how to work together to get the ball down the field.
“I was the quarterback, and Ed would get everybody out of my road,” he told me.
After graduation, however, Tom went straight into the service and Kelley enrolled at Potomac State, but was later called into duty and wound up paying the ultimate price for serving his country.
I remember as Tom sat in my office talking about those days, he spoke with great fondness for Ed, and you could tell the loss of his good friend in the prime of his life was still painful.
But that’s the type of person Tom O’Connor was. He genuinely cared about people - whether it was his good friend who lost his life at the hands of the Germans or a student who was maybe struggling with a math problem in his class.
Tom went on to coach the very Golden Tornado team he had once played on, and while I know he had to be tough in order to coach a winning team, I imagine his players also received just as much care and consideration as he showed everyone he came across.
They were all his kids and he was the type of father figure and role model that unfortunately seems to be very scarce today.
Whether he taught you math, coached you on the field, sat in your office and shared stories, or just happened to run into you on the street, Tom O’Connor definitely left us all a little better for having known him.