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    Roel Zylstra's Avatar
    Roel Zylstra Posts: 84, Reputation: 14
    Tech entrepreneur, perpetual student,lover of life

    Dec 27, 2016, 02:48 PM
    Hi All,

    It is with a heavy heart that I convey some very sad news that I learned of only a couple days ago. Tom Barker, a.k.a. Speedball1, has passed away from cancer and associated pneumonia.

    He was our first expert, and has been helping members and guests since January 19, 2003 – only a couple months after I purchased the domain name for the site – with an average of 6 posts per day for over twelve years. Ask Me Help Desk would not have been what it is today without him.

    Here is an email regarding Tom from his wife Sharon to me, who I met four years ago when I visited Tom in Sarasota, FL:

    Thanks for the kind words about Tom. Tom and I have been living together since 1994 and married 4 yrs this Feb.
    I know it was important to Tom. He took great pride to be the lead plumber on Ask Me Help Desk and monitor.
    I encouraged Tom to get on a site that would appreciate all the hours, which in the beginning for years he answered questions from 6:30 am to late evening 7 days a week, and to keep his mind sharp.
    Tom was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1994, had surgery, seed implants, and kicked it's @ss. (Tom's words not mine)
    But as you know Tom battled with cataracts, then macular degeneration. You helped him to get Dragon Speak.
    But after awhile it stopped working so I read the questions to Tom and typed his answers and posted them for him for the past 5 years.
    Tom then suffered from mouth, throat and gum cancer and kicked it! Surgery and 50 radiation treatments.
    Tom's greatest pride came was when you came to visit us and rode his chopper bike.
    In January 2013, Tom was told he had irreversible chronic lymphocytic leukemia and the doctor told him he had 3 weeks to live.
    COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) but with the taking of wheatgrass and Paw Paw cells and no chemo the cancer reversed and the COPD vanished.
    But Tom now at the age of 89, got cancer again and pneumonia and lost his battle.
    Tom was born April Fools day
    April 1, 1927 - December 10, 2016.
    Here is Tom's letter that he gave to me in preparation of this day:
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    And here are a couple photos of us with his customized motorized bicycle:

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    Attached Images
  1. File Type: pdf Tom's Farewell.pdf (296.6 KB, 70 views)
  2. Wondergirl's Avatar
    Wondergirl Posts: 37,914, Reputation: 5430
    Jobs & Parenting Expert

    Dec 27, 2016, 03:07 PM
    Thanks, Roel, for letting us know. (Too often an Internet friend disappears with no explanation, and there's no way to find out what happened.) Tom was definitely one of a kind. This site will miss his expertise -- and his clever avatar!
    DoulaLC's Avatar
    DoulaLC Posts: 10,488, Reputation: 1952
    Uber Member

    Dec 27, 2016, 04:21 PM
    Sad situation to learn more about this wonderful man and his history with Ask Me Help Desk.

    Thoughts and prayers for peace and strength for his family and friends.
    tickle's Avatar
    tickle Posts: 23,801, Reputation: 2674

    Dec 27, 2016, 05:06 PM
    I am so sad at his passing. God bless him in the hereafter.

    Tick is what he always called me
    Fr_Chuck's Avatar
    Fr_Chuck Posts: 81,304, Reputation: 7692

    Dec 27, 2016, 05:23 PM
    As with many old friends who continue their journey from this world, We have the wonderful memories.
    J_9's Avatar
    J_9 Posts: 40,299, Reputation: 5645

    Dec 27, 2016, 06:07 PM
    I had recently been wondering what had happened to him. So sad to hear of his passing. My thoughts and prayers are with the family he left behind.

    Fly high Speedster!
    cdad's Avatar
    cdad Posts: 12,697, Reputation: 1438
    Internet Research Expert

    Dec 27, 2016, 07:45 PM
    Sad to hear of his passing. 2016 seems to have been a brutal year in many ways. I will keep his family in my prayers. He did great work here and didnt treat anyone like a stranger.

    God Bless R.I.P.
    Cat1864's Avatar
    Cat1864 Posts: 8,007, Reputation: 3687
    Marriage Expert

    Dec 27, 2016, 08:44 PM
    As much as I have been expecting this news, it still comes as a shock. Thank you, Roel, for passing it on.

    My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends, too.

    Rest well, Tom.
    Wondergirl's Avatar
    Wondergirl Posts: 37,914, Reputation: 5430
    Jobs & Parenting Expert

    Dec 27, 2016, 09:04 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by Cat1864 View Post
    Rest well, Tom.
    Knowing Tom, I suspect he's already hard at work unclogging the celestial plumbing.
    Catsmine's Avatar
    Catsmine Posts: 3,827, Reputation: 739
    Pest Control Expert

    Dec 28, 2016, 03:38 AM
    He will be missed.
    Alty's Avatar
    Alty Posts: 28,318, Reputation: 5972
    Pets Expert

    Dec 28, 2016, 01:49 PM
    I once answered a plumbing question because I knew the answer (which doesn't happen ever with plumbing), and Tom messaged me to tell me how impressed he was. It really made me proud that someone with his knowledge, was impressed with my reply. Of course that was the only time I ever had the answer to a plumbing question, but I still remember that from many many years ago.

    I will miss his kindness, his attention to detail, his willingness to stick with an issue until it was resolved and the OP understood what needed to be done.

    RIP Tom, we'll never forget you.
    Curlyben's Avatar
    Curlyben Posts: 18,481, Reputation: 1857
    Admin & Wine Expert

    Dec 28, 2016, 02:29 PM
    We meet very few people of Tom's calibre in life, a true gent and thoroughly top man..
    Gone, but never forgotten.
    talaniman's Avatar
    talaniman Posts: 54,273, Reputation: 10853

    Dec 28, 2016, 05:07 PM
    Many benefited from just knowing him and now he will be missed but remembered.
    smoothy's Avatar
    smoothy Posts: 25,495, Reputation: 2853
    Uber Member

    Dec 29, 2016, 05:47 AM
    Very sorry to hear of his passing. I'm not sure if I've ever conversed directly with him over the years... but I certainly am familiar with many of his contributions.

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