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Thomas Grizzard
In Memory of
Thomas Jefferson
Grizzard Jr.
1946 - 2017
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Barry Weand

I have been putting this off because I could not find the words. Now I realize I will never have adequate words. I have known Tom and his family for 45 years. We were friends in graduate school. We maintained contact even after I moved to Wyoming. In 1978 Tom invited me to join him on a new research project at the OWML. I jumped at the chance and moved east based on a handshake and with no actual written offer. At that time the lab consisted of us and about 6 other employees located in a strip mall in Manassas Park. Over the next 7 years we became partners in a great adventure. We greatly expanded the research program to include other areas around the Commonwealth: the James River, Chesapeake Bay, Hampton Roads, Lake Barcroft, Lake Manassas, and the Rappahannock River. In a few years we outgrew the lab facilities and physically moved the equipment to its present location. At one point the OWML probably employed over 30 people. It became a facility with nationwide recognition. In 1982 Tom and I succeeded in establishing the graduate environmental engineering program in northern Virginia. That program continues today, and has provided talented professionals who are serving in important positions here and throughout the country. I noted at his retirement celebration only a few years ago that Tom was uniquely qualified for his position as Director of the OWML. The work there was really entrepreneurial in nature, requiring all the talents involved in running a small business. Tom met the challenge. He not only had the technical training, but he was a hands-on supervisor who would go to the field to help build monitoring stations. He was a capable and respected speaker at public meetings, which was particularly tricky in the early days when occasional fistfights would break out. He was a good writer, which was important in securing research grants. He was indefatigable and committed, and worked beyond the normal hours, and on weekends. When there was a massive oil spill into Bull Run we both went 48 hours without sleep. Not so long ago at one of our lunches together I told him that I envied his long and focused career. The impact of his work will span generations. It is fair to say that Tom was a brother to me; in fact, he is only a month older than my genetic brother. During our time together at the OWML we were “joined at the hip.” We had individual qualities that complimented each other and worked well as a team. It was one of the landmark times of my life. We shared similar outlooks, on the environment, politics, humor, and life. There were so many experiences that we shared that we could trigger a laughable remembrance with a single word. I will miss that tremendously. I will also miss his easy laugh, his inquisitive nature, his sense of adventure, and his repartee. I offer my heartfelt condolences to Lyn, Jen, and Josh. I know you are very proud of Tom, as you well should be. He exemplified the Virginia Tech motto “Ut Prosim” [to serve]. Men of his caliber do not often present themselves in a lifetime. RIP, my friend.
Wednesday July 12, 2017 at 1:35 pm
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