Tom Baugh, one of our oldest and best friends since Mary and I met, passed away on 25th May.
We first met Tom and Betty…ooh, I don’t really know, some time in 2008, at a local social venue. They were welded at the hip friendship-wise with Don and Jackie. We became friends with all 4 of them quite quickly. We naturally gravitate to people who have no pretension or artifice.
I have been pondering how to describe Tom. Describing humans in a sentence or two is actually rather difficult. But if I had to summarize a lifetime of character in several words, it would be “solid and good”. Tom was one of the most WYSIWYG people that I have had the privilege to know. He was not loud, not quiet, but instinctively friendly, with a deep but non-booming tenor voice, and a sly, slightly dry wit. He and Betty were happily married and devoted to each other, and Tom, being very steady, was her ideal foil. He laughed easily, not a forced laugh, but a laugh that you knew was coming from a real laugh center as opposed to an artifice appearances or social ingratiation center. He appeared to have no particular vices or challenges. His worldview was more conservative than mine, but we never really got into that, mainly because I had no interest in creating friction where none was warranted.
I never really got to know Tom in any deep sense, but sometimes you hang out with people and you don’t need to “know” them in any deep way, because you know from experience that the right thing to do is to just live in the moment and enjoy the company. So, over the years, Mary and I hung out with Tom and Betty and Don and Jackie in many different social situations and locations, and Tom was always just…Tom.
Tom was a solid person, grounded, devoid of pretension or artifice, without a bad or malicious bone in his body. He was, in every respect, one of the Good Guys. Which makes his sudden passing all the more difficult to process. The process of chance intervened and has taken him away from us way too soon. HIs body failed him.
My heart goes out to Betty and his family, and also to Don and Jackie, who outside his family, knew him the best.
We live (as the old Chinese saying goes) in interesting times, where circumstances worldwide are leading to stress, and a lot of people are not being their best selves. Right now, the world could do with a lot more Toms.