A Heck of a Fellow, Tom Harbin

Today I heard about the passing of an old friend, Thomas Newton ?Tom? Harbin, he was only 72 years young. Tom was as worthy a friend as any one could possibly ask for. We shared secrets that I know he took to the grave. For twenty years he honored those of us who worked at The Tribune with a visit every few months and he always came with goodies for us to eat. I often wondered if he loved us or was just trying to fatten us up for the sales pitch kill.


Tom was a salesman. He sold advertising for our newspaper as well as numerous other media outlets in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Tom would show up at our place of business before football and basketball season and lay stakes to an area near a phone to sell ads for our football and basketball contests. For several days Tom could be seen coming and going with his notebook in hand and a smile on his face. I can see him now grinning and wiping the back of his hand across his mouth as if trying to hide the joy that bubbled up from inside him self. Even when cancer took part of his face he never lost that delight he held for life.


Tom was not always the funny man with a joke on his lips he could be quite serious. His love for children was evident when he would casually help out a single mom by making sure her son was supplied with a few luxuries. He never wanted any acknowledgment or praise. He was simply just a good ole soul.


When Tom would visit and sit down with me he?d ask how I was. Not just because that was the polite thing to do, he wanted to know. He wasn?t all into himself, he cared about the people of the world and not what the world and its people could give him. Tom was genuine. He treated folks the same every time he saw them.


Was Tom perfect? No. Is anyone? No. Tom was a lover. He loved people. He loved life. He loved his family and always talked about his wife, their life, and the shenanigans and unique personalities of his daughters. When he spoke of those grandchildren of his Tom?s eyes would dance and sparkle. Love shone through him like a kaleidoscope of bright colors grasping and hugging all who came within arms reach.


The one thing that I will remember most about Tom is that he left me with something very special. He taught me that no matter how old I become it is never too late to dream. When I spoke to him about my writing he encouraged me and dared me to think big. To me if Tom Harbin had of lived to be ninety he would never have been old. Why? Because he had a love for life that would some day transport him to a place of perfect peace.


I will remember Tom all the days of my life and never forget the fun, laughs, and bond that we developed through the years. Rest in peace my friend. See you soon.


To view Tom?s obituary follow this link:


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Starr Poplin July 20, 2014 at 6:17 pm

He sure was Special Sarah. He gave so much to all of us who had the privilege of knowing him, I remember one time, he blessed one of those single mom’s kid with a meal at the Black Wolf Restaurant and encouraged him to try the “duck”. What a delight to watch him with interact with a small boy and share his adventures! Thanks for the memories!! He will be missed.

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