Michael Warren '98-'00
Dear Florence, Steve, and Kate,
I am so sorry for your loss. At the age of 20 I lost my mother – it's not easy. My prayer is that God will strengthen your hearts and comfort you as you grieve. Tom was a great man. And at 35 years old, I have some poignant memories and thoughts of my time with Tom. My wife Tara met Tom over at the Pleasant Drive home in the first years you lived in Anchorage, but she never really got to know him. I found myself telling her lots of stories this week, as I began to grieve the loss myself.
I'd like to share an important memory.
I met Tom as he picked me up at my dorm room at Villanova University. He had traveled all the way from Nome to meet me, an interview to determine if I would be a good fit as a volunteer at KNOM. I was in a rough spot in my life. My Mom had passed away just a few months earlier. He knew.
I jumped in the car and we began to drive, and he took me to a place in southeast Pennsylvania I had never been to before. It was about 45 minutes away from the university, down farm roads with long stone walls that stretched around elaborate farms. It was beautiful.
We arrived at a museum, and he bought us tickets. For hours we slowly walked around. Every once and a while we would stop at a particular painting, and Tom would explain what he knew about the Wyeths (N.C. and Andrew) and their art careers. Here are two things I saw that day that I remember:
Before returning to the university, Tom took me to Conestoga Pizza, insisting that it was the best pizza Philadelphia had to offer, and half way through lunch he engaged me with some tough questions about my grief and the hurt of losing my Mom and how coming to Nome wouldn't take care of or eliminate the pain I was feeling. I told the truth about everything I was feeling and poured my heart out about the pull I felt on my heart for KNOM. He sure loved me well that day.
I look back on a man whose life work has made a difference in the lives of many. And at 35 years old with two children (and one on the way), I understand the weight of being a family man and a man called by God to do very significant things with his life. I don't know if we get to understand the magnitude of investments like the kinds Tom made on this side of heaven. But I guess I'd like to think that's what the Lord is blessing him with right now – a deep and heartfelt "well done" and a look into the legacies of the many lives he either saved or improved through his time here on earth.
I like to think that because I'm one of them.
Fr. Paul Macke, S.J.: Washington, D.C.
Dear Parishioners of St. Joseph Church and Listeners of KNOM,
We could all tell endless stories of Tom Busch: both from “on the air” or “off the air” experiences at KNOM and as a faithful member of this Catholic Church for many years. I had the privilege of working directly with Tom at KNOM from 1977 until 1983, as pastor of St. Joseph’s parish from 1979-1983, and as acting director of KNOM from 1979 until 1980. We all know of the many awards KNOM has won under Tom, and his great service to the Alaska Broadcasters and Rotary Club both in Nome and in Anchorage. I had the privilege of being at Tom’s funeral in Anchorage on November 6 and heard many testimonials about him.
What struck me most about Tom was his dedicated perseverance in adversity. In the year I was acting director (1979-1980), KNOM lost its first staff member and Jesuit volunteer in the line of duty: Diana Gardenier was killed covering a news story when her plane crashed on the Norton Sound coast. Diana died along with eight others in that airplane. In the next few years, five others died from that same KNOM volunteer community. Tom could have given up, but he did not. This appeared in the Nome Static back in 1980:
General manager Tom Busch writes, in part: “Knowing Diana, we have learned a little more about faith, about what it means to commit yourself to an ideal, about love and the spark of divinity within every person, in which Diana believed so much.”
This same line now applies to Tom himself.
Later he was to find out that KNOM and his own family were victimized by the sexual abuse crisis. Tom was deeply distressed, but he did not give up. His faith was shaken, but it never broke.
Tom remained a loyal friend to me long after I left KNOM. I remember one time in 1998, when I had taken over as Executive Director of Holy Spirit Retreat House (now Holy Spirit Center) in Anchorage, I found out the retreat house had a serious debt that I did not know about until I became the director. I asked Tom for his advice, and he paid my tuition to the National Catholic Development Conference in Toronto. This gave me the confidence to raise the needed funds and quickly get out of debt. Tom was generous in more ways than you will ever know, and I am sure many of us could share similar stories.
Tom Busch has now gone to his eternal reward. May he rest in peace. And I pray that he ask Jesus to give us the grace to have even a speck of his perseverance, fidelity, and generosity.
My greetings to the Busch family, to the KNOM staff, and to all of you from Washington, DC, where I have worked for the last six years. “Eternal Rest grant to him, O Lord, and perpetual light shine upon him.” Amen!
Sincerely yours in the Risen Christ Jesus,
Fr. Paul Macke, S.J.
Leonard Neale House Jesuit Community
Karen McLane: Nome, Alaska
I remember Tom in two ways:
- Beach parties with the KNOM volunteers and burying him in the sand. (We had a photo of him all nicely tucked in, but I couldn't find it.)
- The reel-to-reel films at our house, when I was a child. I never knew what they were watching, but I do remember being shown how to work the projector, and Tom was one of my teachers. (See photo below.)
Amy (Flaherty) Gorn '02-'08: Sitka, Alaska
I met Tom and Florence twice at volunteer fairs at my college. While I courted KNOM during the month of March (2002), he sent me the infamous Iditarod diary, in progress. Here's a college senior opening at 70+ page document late at night, about a sport of which she had no knowledge! I could have run away screaming, but his obvious love and excitement told me this Nome, Alaska possibility could change my life.
When I flew into Anchorage for the first time, Tom was at my gate, waiting to greet me. He had just flown in from Fairbanks and we sat waiting for Florence's plane to arrive (she was coming from Fairbanks too, just later).
He talked about the lack of certain products in Nome and how had he carried, in his hand bag, an item he purchased in Fairbanks and couldn't get in Nome. I had 20 questions to figure it out! I thought it was an intelligence test of sorts for new volunteers. I impressed him, though, and got close! I guessed some sort of green produce like Brussels sprouts. He was carrying a big artichoke. Once Flo flew in, we rented a car and made the traditional new-broadcaster visit to Augie Hiebert.
Mostly, though, every weekday morning for 3 years, Tom greeted me, and he made a point to talk and share about something. He started his work day as happy as could be, refreshed and ready to visit while I worked the morning show and Paul was doing Expanded Update News.
His wide-eyed, cheerful self would smile and enter Studio A, ready to launch into some story or thoughts. Mostly it started in response or comment to something I shared during the Morning Show: a story he thought of based on something I talked about on the radio. Or, maybe he read something on the Internet the night before and wanted me to know. Perhaps the night sky's stars were in a certain alignment and I should go look, or here's a cinematography magazine you may want to read, or he saw a movie the night before and was considering the actors' performances.
Maybe he remembered a story that led to a talk about marriage, mortality, faith and trying times, parenthood. He seemed just at ease contemplating the mysteries of life as he was discussing story arcs from the season of Northern Exposure I was borrowing from him and Florence.
Every weekday morning for 3 years I listened and learned from him in those one-on-one moments. What a gift. What an opportunity to share from my young life and have someone take my thoughts, trials, and interests seriously. He would always light up and stop his work to listen to my reflections and experiences when I returned from every village trip. He would delight in my details and recollections, and ultimately have a memory and story of his own to share in return.
Andrew DiGiovanni '94-'96: Goffstown, New Hampshire
In the two years I spent at KNOM, I experienced an enormous personal growth and professional learning curve. My volunteer stint was unlike anything that I could have otherwise had straight out of college. I have since felt the deepest gratitude for both the opportunity and the impact that this had on my life - and I owe this all to Tom.
Tom was a terrific engineer and manager, but remained connected with the listening audience with a daily two-hour show. The warm timbre of his voice and his upbeat delivery resonated with folks young and old around the music, through Hotlines and weather statements, and in educational spots like the Alaska Science Forum. Tom knew all of the old production tricks but implemented the latest technology. He sought out the finest new volunteers who could both perform well at the station and live harmoniously in its tight community. He welcomed input from each member of the staff at the weekly meeting. Tom taught us all how to use remote equipment and prepared us for adventures to some of the most far-flung locations on the continent. He truly believed in God's love and forgiveness, and practiced the same.
I remember Tom explaining that most KNOM listeners would have no idea what a golf ball looks like. He showed me that radio was so much more than formats or marketing; in the case of KNOM, it was a window to the world and a vital source of comfort.
Month after month, Tom relayed this to all of KNOM's contributors and praying supporters in The Nome Static. Though the newsletter defied all the rules of fundraising, its success was largely attributable to the fact that Tom intentionally used pictures of staff members, villagers and visitors who were smiling directly at the reader.
I extend my sincere condolences to Tom's family and the entire crew. We will all remember Tom and the times we spent with him inside and outside of the station. And we will always have the utmost respect and admiration for KNOM's legendary Iditarologist.
Therese “Tweet” Burik
Dear KNOM, staff, volunteers, friends, and family,
What a shock and sorrow it was to get the news that Tom Busch passed away so suddenly. I had such a hard time realizing that it was true and how could it happen.
I have known Tom and Florence for years and years. I often called and talked with them on the telephone and visited them, both in Nome and in Anchorage.
I met Tom Busch in Alaska back in 1970. His presence on the radio was eager and enthusiastic: filled with love, concern, delight, and faithfulness. He did everything he could to get the work of the KNOM mission accomplished. I knew Tom for years, as I was the Business Manager at KNOM as well as at the St. Joseph Parish (in Nome).
Tom, we all miss you very, very much and ask God to grant peace, joy, love, concern, and all excellent efforts to keep KNOM going as you had done for years.
Love and prayers,
Therese "Tweet" Burik
Marty Wind: KLUX 89.5HD, Corpus Christi, Texas
To our good friends at KNOM in Nome, Alaska:
Don’t really have any stories or photos, but if there was ever a Catholic radio organization and visionary that we identified with, it was KNOM and Tom Busch.
We sincerely mourn his passing, but he leaves for his greater reward, which he certainly earned.
In our opinion, Tom Busch represented Catholic radio thinking at its best.
His stations were all true to, and promoted, the Catholic faith and the Magisterium. He served both tirelessly, but he also took very seriously the expectations of his stations by virtue of having been granted an FCC license: namely, to serve the needs and concerns of his entire community.
Year after year, award after award, accolade after accolade: he did it all correctly and with great love for the Church. He truly was, and remains, a great Catholic radio pioneer.
The entire staff of KLUX 89.5HD in Corpus Christi, Texas, joins me in saluting this great Catholic broadcaster. We extend our condolences with assurances of prayers to Ms. Busch, the Busch family, and the Church in Nome, as well as the entire staff of KNOM AM and FM.
You’re not really leaving us Tom, and you’re definitely not off the hook: your greatest work for Catholic Radio is only beginning.
Pray for us all.
Terry Nauman-Williamson: Seattle, Washington
Dear KNOM Family,
I was deeply saddened to hear about Tom in the newsletter that came yesterday to my home in Seattle.
I was a nurse at the hospital from 1988 to 1990. I was not a JVC volunteer but spent time at the house with friends like Tom Bartol, Linda and MJ, Katie, and Mark. I remember Tom Busch as the anchor and heart of the station. He was always fixing things, including my 3 wheeler one time. I was very grateful.
It seems saddest to me that he may have passed without saying goodbye to so many people in his life, his family, his KNOM family and community. But I feel a faith-filled consolation that he passed on to heaven on All Saints Day and knowing, now, that he was also born on All Saints Day, too.
It is a testament to our faith that God had a plan for Tom and was greeted in heaven by a multitude of Saints. The example of his giving life inspires and reminds me to cling to our God who knows us and to live out each day to its fullest in faith!
Peace to you all!
RN at Swedish Hospital in Seattle
Julianne Dickelman '82-'84, '86-'88
Tom the genius, Tom the great husband and dad, Tom the passionate, faithful leader, Tom the renaissance man... yet what immediately came to mind was:
- Tom's love of Ogden Nash
- Tom demonstrating for us at a staff meeting in the upstairs of the old station how to take a 2 minute shower (he stayed clothed!)
- Animals in the News!
- Tom's beloved photo of Rod Serling
- Tom listening to me kvetch about community life and saying "never try to teach a pig to dance, it annoys the pig and wastes your time," which as been my mantra for lo' these many years
- Tom allowed me to play at radio, inspired me with his creativity.
- Tom married a great woman who was a wonderful friend to me.
- Tom's legacy beams on.
Jennifer (Holtorf) Kehr '04-'05: Eagan, Minnesota
During my brief six months as a KNOM volunteer, Tom gave me strength, determination and encouragement when I experienced difficult circumstances.
He was supportive and compassionate, and he continued to keep in touch with me after I left Nome, which was essential for me to fully heal: even years later.
Tom’s encouragement kept me going when I felt my strength was wavering and I lacked faith in my self-worth or future; his promising and uplifting words rang in my memory when I struggled and gave me strength.
Thank you, Tom, for helping me through difficult times and giving me support to carry on when I had so many doubts.
My prayers are with all of you.
MJ Hartman '87-'88: Richland, Washington
I was a KNOM volunteer in 1987-88.
Tom had what might seem like an impossible job: to get very green, young people with no radio experience to run a radio station. Yet under his guidance, KNOM not only survived: it thrived and won award after award!
When he gave me criticism, it never felt like criticism. And when he gave me praise, I felt like a million bucks.
Somehow he knew how to let the Holy Spirit have a crucial role in KNOM.
Tom Sofio '78-'79
I met Tom Busch while serving as a KNOM volunteer in 1978-79.
Tom was a true renaissance man: talented in so many ways. Few people believed that a radio station could survive in Nome, economically and due to the harsh conditions. Yet Tom made it happen, in part due to his diverse talents.
I was in awe of his technical knowledge: how he'd climb up towers and fix things in the middle of winter. But he also understood the importance of radio as an inspirational voice in the wilderness. He was an engineer, a communicator, an organizer, a fundraiser. And if that wasn't enough, he was a faithful husband and father, a student of history and cultures, an Iditarod promoter, a gardener, and on and on.
Tom: you were a light shining in the darkness.
We will miss you, but we will draw inspiration from you for how we should go about our daily affairs during our time on earth.
I have no doubt the saints and angels are welcoming you right now into eternal glory with Christ and God: the source of all love.
Katy Clark '88-'94: Canton, Massachusetts
Like so many who knew and loved Tom as a mentor and a friend, I am terribly shocked by the news of his passing.
I would not be the person I am today if I hadn't met Tom shortly after graduating from college in 1988. We bonded perhaps because we were both BC grads and from the East Coast. Or maybe it was because we both enjoyed doing the KNOM morning shift (although I noticed Tom didn't seem to mind too much when he eventually turned his slot over to a much younger KNOMer).
I always felt that it was divine inspiration that led me to Nome. Working with Tom, and learning radio from him, set me off on a life-long love of radio. I left KNOM after 2 years as a volunteer to try my hand at another station. Where, I didn't know. Tom patiently responded to my many requests for references for a job first in Kentucky, then Texas, then Nebraska, and finally Utah. After that last one, Tom said, "Why don't you just come back to Nome?" I'm glad I did. I had a lot more to learn from Tom.
I will never forget one particular hike I went on with Tom and several other members of KNOM's extended family. I forget which hill we tackled that day, but it was beautiful. After struggling for what seemed hours to cross the tundra without twisting any ankles, we made it to the top. I was drinking in the view and could have stayed for hours. But within 10 minutes or so of summiting, Tom said we had to go. Florence would be worried if we didn't get home soon. I could have killed him. Later, I smiled knowing how much Florence meant to Tom and how much he needed to get back to her.
I also remember visiting with Tom several years after I'd left Nome (the second time). He was in Boston to recruit volunteers and spent a night at my place. We stayed up late talking about his writing, his plans for the Anchorage home he and Florence were preparing to move to, and any number of other topics. Tom could have gone on ‘til sunrise. I felt terrible doing so, but I finally had to say I was exhausted and needed to go to bed. He never ran out of stories.
I'm sure Tom could have made a lot more money working somewhere else. For my sake, and for everyone else's who's had the pleasure to spend time at KNOM, I'm sure glad he stayed where he did.
My heartfelt condolences to Florence, Steve and Kate.
Diana Stokey: Ogallala, Nebraska
Sorry to hear of Tom’s passing.
He was a very kind man who loved radio. It was a pleasure to know him.
The Nome Static: KNOM Radio, Nome, Alaska