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Editorial: Tom Stoker was a valued colleague and treasured friend

🕐 3 min read

This past week, the Fort Worth Business Press lost a friend and colleague, Tom Stoker, whose work with us brought an angelic peace and sense of calm to our normally frantic and frenetic workplace.

Tom died May 10. He was 61.

Newspapers are like that. Crazy places. Deadlines are ignored. Plans, if made at all, fall apart and are changed multitudinous times. We always need to be saved from ourselves.

Many times, Tom was our savior. Along the way, his support not only lifted the fortunes of our business but also those of our colleagues. Several months ago, weak from cancer treatments and still working at the end of a long day, he heard about a family problem of one of our colleagues. He stopped everything he was doing on the spot and phoned a counselor to schedule an immediate appointment to provide family help.

Our first meeting with Tom presaged his future with us. It was 15 years ago and we were presenting our “Great Women of Texas,” event and expecting a record attendance of over 400 persons in the Van Cliburn Recital Hall at Bass Hall.

There was only one small problem.

The room we had rented as our venue only seated about 200.

Pondering how to fit 400 persons into 200 seats, we were understandably perplexed – until Tom appeared on the scene. He was helping local groups who rented Hall space with staging and production and he had an idea.

In a matter of minutes he concocted an audio/visual plan to use two rooms for the event and make our attendees feel as if they were all in one room. If you are confused by that description so were we, but Tom helped us pull off a successful event that everyone loved.

That was the start of the Business Press’ long relationship with Tom Stoker and his company, SRG Creative Solutions, for the production of all our events. His ability to create smooth, seamless and elegant productions was unparalleled in this market.

Tom’s real calling was in church work where he was a minister of music. He served at Broadway Baptist Church for 15 years and most recently had been at Arborlawn as minister of worship arts.

He helped plan Van Cliburn’s funeral and served as musical conductor for the service. He had become a lifelong friend of Van’s after overseeing the installation of the Rildia Bee O’Bryan Cliburn (Van’s mother) Organ at Broadway Baptist.

Diminutive in size, Tom was a giant in heart and soul, faith and compassion. He fought cancer with all his might and, maybe more importantly, with grace and dignity and not one complaint. The elegance and style of his staging and production work were matched by his fashionable round, horned-rim glasses and his impeccable taste in clothes.

He was a sharp dresser but his edges were soft. He had a sixth sense when someone was suffering from pain or doubt. His wise counsel and gifted advice would almost immediately begin repairing the most broken spirit or troubled heart.

We at the Business Press will miss his guiding hand and loving ways. 

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