PCHS grad Tom Stone remembered for kind nature
It was three days after his son had died in a tragic accident, and Jim Stone didn’t know what to expect.
The president of Cal Poly State University had told him earlier that only a handful of people normally show up to the school’s memorials and that people rarely speak at them. It was a sunny Friday in Southern California, and maybe people have better things to do, Stone thought.
But then the crowd gathered and swelled, eventually growing into the triple digits. One by one, many students shared what they had loved about Tom Stone, 22, and what they would miss, and what it had been, exactly, that had made him so special.
And that’s when Jim Stone understood.
"They thanked us for raising such a great guy," he said, fighting back tears. "They told us how he had affected their lives. He had such an effect on people. That was spellbinding because a lot of it, his mother and I did not know. We didn’t know he had that kind of an effect on his peers. We knew what kind of a boy and a man he was, but we didn’t realize what he meant to so many people."
Tom Stone, a Park City High School graduate, died Feb. 16 when he was hit by a train near the campus of Cal Poly, where he was attending college as a business major. A memorial to honor him in Park City, where he grew up after moving to town in second grade, is set for Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Park City Community Church.
Jim Stone said in an interview Monday that his son was outgoing and lively. He had a wild streak and loved to be the life of the party. But most of all, his son was kind.
"He was known as somebody that tried to make people feel better if they were down or hurting," Jim Stone said. "One guy that came up to me (at Cal Poly) said, ‘I’m Tom’s brother.’ I was like, ‘What?’ He said he’d been kicked out of the dorms and was homeless, and if hadn’t been for Tom he would have never made it. Tom never gave up on anybody."
He added that while Stone had many friends in Park City, he truly blossomed at Cal Poly. He was well-known around campus, and people "gravitated to him."
"As his friends said down at Cal Poly, everybody knew when Tom came into the room, but in a good way," Stone said. "His roommates told me that they were known around as campus as his friends. They would be at a party or a gathering and it would be like, ‘Who are you?’ They’d say, ‘Well, I’m so and so, Tom’s roommate.’ Everybody knew Tom."
But in many ways, it was the people in Park City who shaped who Tom would become, Jim Stone said, adding that he is grateful for those who were friends to him here.
"When you cut away all the other stuff, at heart he was just a good guy," Jim Stone said. "He was just truly a good guy. I think a lot of that was because of the people of Park City. He was a product of his environment."
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The Park City Board of Education is on track to place a bond on the ballot this fall to improve district facilities. The top priorities would be to put ninth grade in the high school, eighth grade in the middle school and to augment preschool offerings by expanding elementary schools.