Deceased April 26, 2023
The class of 1971 lost one of its “brethren” on April 26, 2023, with the passing of Ted Tombs, of Johns Island, South Carolina. Ted had been diagnosed with Alpha-1 (Antitrypsin Deficiency), a rare genetic disease that can affect the lungs and/or (as in Ted’s case) the liver, eight years ago.
Those fortunate enough to have known Ted recall his friendliness and fun-loving nature, an infectious smile and laugh, his unique greeting to close friends (Ya’ bloody bum, what’s up?), his occasional hip-check when walking with you down a sidewalk and willingness to partake in something fun to do, anytime/anywhere.
At Amherst, Ted earned his degree in history of which he was a voracious reader, was a member of Chi Phi and captain of the hockey team. One of his proudest moments on the ice was in his senior year as captain leading the team to victory over Williams, at home—a tradition not well established by “pucksters” in those days.
Ted was born in Edmonton, Canada, and grew up in Mississauga, a suburb of Toronto. Once he came to Amherst, the U.S. became his adopted home. After graduation, Ted earned an MBA from Syracuse University and, with degree in hand, indulged in a brief respite playing hockey in Europe for an Italian team.
Upon returning to the U.S., Ted industriously immersed himself in the retail merchandising business, first with Sears Roebuck and later with Meade Inc. However, given his strong entrepreneurial spirit in the early ’90s, Ted launched Merchandising Resources Inc (MRI), specializing in display fixturing and retail merchandising initiatives. In 1995 he sold part of MRI and joined forces with a plastics company to pioneer, design, and develop countertop and small floor-standing beverage display coolers.
After 9/11, Ted negotiated with an Austrian company, AHT Cooling Systems, to establish a cooler distributorship in the U.S. In this venture, he proudly engaged his two sons, Drew and Devin, and the business grew and prospered under their joint stewardship. The business was sold in 2012; Ted retired while his sons continued to be engaged in the business under contract until 2022.
Always an avid traveler, Ted and Laura, his wife of 27 years, did so extensively, especially after retiring. Given his peripatetic nature, he relocated frequently, often driven by a desire to be closer to one or more of his children. Ted is survived by his wife, Laura; their six children, Drew, Tory, Devin, Cate, Lauren and Callie; his brother, Terry, and sister Susan; eight grandchildren and one great-grandson.
With Ted’s passing, we lost a good person, a loyal and unconditional friend and college mate. To that, I would add, a teammate, a Phi brother and “best man.” Ted, you are dearly missed.
Peter French ’71