Blue Skies Tommy D

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Hopefully Tom's family will take comfort in the fact that those here who actually knew Tom respected him and knew him to be a humble, fun-loving, kind man in addition to being a very competent skydiver. I didn't get to hang out with him a fraction of the time you and the rest of the the Byron crew did, and all that was still quite obvious to me. It's been nice for me to read here that everyone else who got to spend a lot more time with him knew him as the same guy I did. He was a good person and one from whom we could all learn a thing or two about how we treat others.

(drink Mountain Dew)

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More pictures of Tommy! Yeah!

black and white photo: Tom rocking karaoke w/ Q during the Byron Boogie this year

Byron Love: another one from 15 Dec....it was a good night

Car picture: on the way to the firetower at LP this year

~ Ilea & Ficus

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Hello everyone out there... everywhere. My name is Kevin, one of Tommy's brothers. Dave (our older brother) and I, as well as others in our family, have been visiting the forum today and I'd like to thank everyone for the kind words being expressed here.
It's very comforting to see just how loved he is and how he'll be missed by so many. We love the stories, memories and photos that have been posted and hope to read and see more.
I can't really articulate everything I'd like at this time... I guess I just wanted thank everyone for the caring and love you all gave and continue to give to our brother.

Thank You to everyone and please be safe.

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I know from my late night conversations with Tom, how much your family has been through. I know this is an amazingly difficult time for all of you.

I wish I had some majic words of comfort to offer that would help to carry you through this time.

All I can do is offer an ear, a shoulder, a story or two. You can find me here on dz.com or my contact info is on my web site (GravityGear.com). I know your dad has my number as he used to use it to contact Tom before his cell phone days.

Peace to you and your family. And lots of Byron Love too. Tom was truely happy here at Byron. This last year in particular, he really started to show his bright and happy side again.

Peace and Blue Skies!
Bonnie ==>Gravity Gear!

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My condolences go out to you and your family. I didn't know Tom for more than maybe one year but he left an impression on me. Last night, approximately 50+ skydivers gathered at a local restaurant to pay tribute to your brother. I will pass along photos to Iwan to get out to you and your family. Words can't even express the amount of respect and love we have for your brother as a skydiver, a human being, and mostly as a friend.

Losers make excuses, Winners make it happen
God is Good
Beer is Great
Swoopers are crazy.

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Tommy D was definitely looking over us last night. On my way home I saw the biggest shooting star ever! I'm talking this streak of light was so huge and close to Earth's atmosphere, it was amazing!!!! All I could think of ... it had to be him. A great way to say good night to last night's tribute.

We miss you Tom! You will be amongst us always.

Love to all.


"Well, it's a big pretty white plane with a red stripe, curtains at the windows, wheels, and it just looks like a big Tylenol!"

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Here is the full info on the wake for Tom as well as his funeral.

Thomas Paul Dillon, age 31, formerly of Schaumburg,
IL, died on December 31, 2006 while visiting friends
in Eloy, AZ.

A 1993 graduate of Conant High School in Hoffman
Estates, IL., Thomas was an avid skydiver and in
recent years had relocated to the west coast to pursue
his passion.

Thomas will forever be missed by his surviving family,
father Dennis; brothers David (Laura) and Kevin
(Katie); stepmother Patricia; stepsisters Michele
(Mike) Hall, Christine (Jason) Holmes and Traci Leach;
his aunt Gayle (Patrick) Barkley; many nieces nephews
and cousins; and by all who grew to know and love him
during his all too brief life. His precious memory
will remain forever in our hearts.

Visitation will held on Sunday, Jan. 7 from 3 to 8
p.m. at Ahlgrim & Sons Funeral Home, 330 W. Golf Rd.,
Schaumburg, IL. Funeral Services will be held on
Monday, Jan. 8 at 11:30 a.m. at Saint Matthew Catholic
Church, 1001 E. Schaumburg Rd., Schaumburg, IL. In
lieu of flowers, Mass offerings would be appreciated.

Preceded in death by his beloved mother, Gail Emma
Dillon (nee Heitbrink), Thomas will be laid to rest by
her side at St. Luke Cemetery, Chicago, IL.

For info or directions please call Ahlgrim & Sons
Funeral Home at 847-882-5580

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tom~ what can i say, you were taken away too early. i feel ever so very privelaged to have shared my life with you. between mumbles, your smiles always shared warmth. may the wiggle puppies keep you safe up there with henry, and your mom.

i love you tom, always had, and always will. take care.

good luck to you; and see you around.


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Thank you all for sharing your memories and photo’s of Tommy with us (his family). It has been great to hear your stories and to see Tommy smiling and enjoying his life away from his home here in Chicago. It has been heartwarming to know that Tommy lived and worked around people that shared his same passion in life and to know that you all loved Tommy as much as we all do.

Tommy entered my life when he was about 8 or 9 years old… when our parents started dating and shortly thereafter married. I would be remiss if I didn’t share some of my favorite memories of Tommy with you all. I’ll always remember Tommy as “my new little brother” - that cute little blonde haired boy who rode his bike constantly. I’ll always remember how completely adorable Tommy looked when he came home with that Vanilla Ice hair cut and still to this day whenever I hear the “Ice Ice Baby” song I think of him. I was always mesmerized by Tommy’s dancing – when we were all younger he mastered the moon dance before any of us…and no one could break dance like Tommy, we didn’t even want to try – I’m sure he got sick of me asking him to “do that spinning on the floor move again”….I could have watched him dance for hours. As he got older, I remember Tommy as a great baker and that he was always experimenting and trying to cook something new in the kitchen. Then there were those Dead Head years. I’ll never forget how surprised I was when I heard that Tommy went sky diving that first time, and how excited he was to talk about it and to do it…again, and again, and again. And I’ll never forget how Tommy’s face “lit up” when he brought his skydiving videos home for everyone to watch.

I still can’t believe that Tommy is gone. I wish this was just a terrible dream that someone could wake us all up from. I hope he knows how much we all loved him and that we all miss him terribly.

In the past few days, I’ve read, talked about and learned more about skydiving than I thought I’d ever do in a lifetime. Now, I’m sorry that I never asked Tommy if I could come see him sky dive in person. Perhaps he did ask someone, but I’m pretty sure he was hesitant to ask any of us to come watch him since we were all so paranoid about it. But more than anything, I’m sorry that Tommy and I didn’t have the opportunity to get to know each other better as adults – I never expected that our time would have been cut so short. I’m taking comfort in the fact that Tommy left us while he was doing something that he felt completely passionate about, and that Tommy will finally have the chance to reunite with his mother after all of these years. Hopefully he will also be reunited with his dogs, which he loved as if they were little children.

Tommy, please know that we’ll all miss your presence, your happy smile and that sweet little twinkle that you always had in your eyes.

A Big Kiss and a Big Hug to you Tommy,
Christine (step sister #2 of 3)

My condolences go out to the friends and family of Cliff Heller and I wish a fast emotional and physical recovery for Jay Humphries and Ilea. I hope something positive surfaces from these terrible accidents. Thank you to the people who comforted Tommy at his last moments. And to all of Tommy’s friends….I wish you all comfort, peace…and most importantly I wish you all safety.

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This is Michele - Tommy's oldest sister....

It has been a hard week for everyone. Today will be ESPECIALLY WICKEDLY difficult as we are approaching the wake where we will be able to see Tommy one last time and say our final goodbyes - in person and in spirit.

It's just not right - over and over again - yet at least you were doing what you loved Tommy as much as we all hoped for something different because we love you...and above everything - we are so glad you were happy.

I wanted to thank all of you who have contributed recollections of Tommy, kind thoughts and pictures. I can't even begin to express how deeply comforting it has been for the family to read these entries and know that Tommy has been surrounded by love and friends and happiness. It personally helped me understand a life he lead in a world I did not know and was afraid to know. And it makes me and our family so happy to see his world was a wonderful place with an unspoken bond of caring and love from each of you.

We have all seeked out this site since the accident - seeking out more and getting more several times a day and each time healing more with the kind words. Thank you - thank you - thank you.

I feel I really missed spending all the great times together you all have been able to spend with him - as we seemed to live worlds apart with me in college, moving out of the house, and then him moving away. I am so comforted to know he had many many great times with so many friends. And it touches me profoundly to know he had such a positive impact on so many people and touched so many lives. His short life was so meaningful and packed full of wonderful experiences - I am so grateful for that.

We are eternally grateful for each of you out there for the types of people you were for him in his life.

I love you Tommy - I love your hugs, I love your mumbling - I love your smiles - I love the great man you have turned out to be - I am so proud of you - and I'll catch you on other side and we'll catch up for some lost partying time. Rest in peace - I know you couldn't be happier right now with your mommy.

Love - Michele (sis #1 of 3)

And hey - bro - you are a kick-butt dancer - thanks for the dances at Kevin's wedding - that was the best last memory I have - and it makes me smile.

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Well I just got back from Tommy’s wake. As usual there are many feelings rolling around inside. Tom I will miss you, but I know that when my time comes, that your light will be one of those burning brightly to help guide my way. Try not to use up all your fuel before then, as I know the crew you are hanging with now and they are not such good examples, that’s why I loved all of you that are there waiting.

I was able to spend a few moments with Tom’s family before things began to pick up and wanted to let those of you who asked, know that I shared your love of Tom with them and I know they appreciated the thoughts of yours even though you could not be there. I was also able to share a few moments with Tom’s friends from Byron. I wish my schedule would allow me to see you all again tomorrow but it doesn’t. Remember that if there is anything that I can do to help you all I am here for you. I look forward to the day when we can get together to share a few drinks and memories of Tom with laughter rather than tears. I promise that I will find the time to do that with you all. I am a bag and sometimes it takes me awhile to follow up on my promises, but I always do.

Ilea, I know that at times like these words can seem so shallow, but one day the pain will lessen, the hollow spot will remain but the pain will not be so bad. That is when Tom will have given you the strength and courage to love life again. Remember your life and his will always have been richer for having had each other in your life’s, just as mine was richer for having had Tom in it, as well as so many others of us.

I don’t know what else to say….

TheSpeedTriple - Speed is everything
"Blessed are those who can give without remembering, and take without forgetting."

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I hadn't seen Tom since the old days of Skydive Illinois, when, out of the blue, he showed up at the Holiday Boogie in Eloy with some buddies from Byron, and a nice new girlfriend. It was a pleasure to see him again, and to find out that he was still the same old Tommy - humble, friendly, and a genuinely nice guy. The mumbling hadn't changed, either. :)
It's been a rough couple of days, but I hope that everyone who cared about Tommy can find some measure of closure now. Big thanks to the Byron folks for making the trip. I hope time can help heal some of the wounds that must feel so fresh right now.

Blue skies, Tommy. You will be remembered fondly.

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This is Tommy's last sister Traci. When I found out what happened I was in complete shock, it didn't seem real. I went to work the next day and told a co-worker of mine who also is a passionate skydiver what happened. I told him because I knew that he could relate to the situation and because I wanted to stress to him to be safe. I don't want to hear of any other tragedies like this...especially so close to home. He pointed this website to me, I told my family, and here we are.

I want thank every one of you from the bottom of my heart all the kind words that you have for Tommy. Your stories and feelings about Tommy have made a world of a difference to all of us. We often worried about Tommy being out on his own without family nearby, but I see that he had his own family of friends that gave him love, support, and most of all fun. Unfortunately, I didn't get to know him as well as an adult because I also moved away from home, so our paths didn't cross that often. I will miss him dearly as will everyone.

Our family also has met some of you that made the trip out to Chicago. Thanks to all that were able to make it, we know it’s not always easy to come when something like this is out of state. It was wonderful to meet everyone in person and to swap stories. I wish we could have met under different circumstances. Every one of you was warm and inviting and it’s good to know Tommy was around such wonderful, loving and fun people. I even made my attempt as a VCL, but ultimately failed...I’ll get it next time.

While what happened is truly a tragedy, Tommy did follow his dream. He lived life to the fullest, and not everyone can say that. He didn’t let fear hold him back as so many of us do. He was very quiet, sweet, and respectful. When he did say something I would often have to ask him to repeat himself, I too experienced the mumbles. I thought it was just me who couldn’t understand him until I read that many others had the same problem. I have fond memories of Tommy, many of which were already mentioned by my siblings. He was a little boy when we met him, and he grew up to be such a wonderful man. He is loved and will truly be missed. He will be with his mother again, and someday we will all be reunited again with him and others that have gone before us.

Tommy, we love you so much. We will miss that wonderful smile and those dancing feet. Blue skies to you Tommy.

To everyone out there flying in the sky...please be careful out there.

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well hell i never post on here, and all i can say is Tom helped me in ways he never even knew. Whether it was chasing him on the packing deck tryin to outpack him. To seeing which of us could shoot the "better" video, he was my best competition to make me better at everything I did at the dz.

It hast really hit me till a week later and dam its hitting pretty hard, here I am having to stop typing every minute to compose myself.

Yeah Tom will def. be missed. The video crew just wont be the same without him.

BSBD bro


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To all that have contributed to this amazing thread, I thank you … from the bottom of my heart.

Please know that the memories and photos that you have all taken the time to share have aided not only the healing process of the skydiving community to which Tom belonged … but provided Tom’s family with at least some small degree of solace in what has otherwise been an incredibly difficult time.

I have to admit that I am still struggling with the fact that Tom is gone, and may never be able to fully articulate the pain, and overwhelming sense of loss, that I feel. However, the outpouring of emotion and well wishes that the family has received over the past several days, in particular those from un-expected sources such as this website, has been simply incredible.

There are no words that can change what has happened … no actions that will bring Tom back to us. However, reading through the various posts, and pouring through all of the wonderful pictures, has reminded me that Tom was living the life that he chose … on his terms … and one that, by all accounts, made him happy. We should all be so lucky. It helps, if only in some small way, to know that in pursuing this life Tom was not only introduced to a community of people that shared his passion for skydiving, but truly embraced him, and loved him for who he was:

“The mumbling charmer … sincere … kindhearted … a pure spirit … humble … fun-loving … the first person to offer assistance, and the last person to say a bad thing about anybody … a good person and one from whom we could all learn a thing or two about how we treat others.”

Of all my own personal memories of Tom, many of my fondest happen to revolve around this very time of year.

Our family traditionally gets together on Christmas Eve to celebrate, and exchange gifts. As the youngest, Tom always received the honor (i.e. the short end of the stick) of distributing the gifts … one at a time, with the next gift not being distributed until the prior had been opened for everyone to see. It can be quite a process, but one that Tom orchestrated with great skill and care over the years … he was quite the little “elf”.

As he got older he would occasionally make a half-hearted plea for someone else to take over, but would always fulfill the role in the end … always with that special smile, and a twinkle in his eye that let you know that deep down, he really enjoyed it. Of all my memories of Tom, it is probably those images that I will hold most dear … Christmas Eve, the family gathered, and Tom under the tree distributing gifts … often in his big fluffy slippers (think big oversized animal feet … see attached photo).

It will never be quite the same without him.

Again, I thank you all … for the kind words, the photos and the memories. They have meant the world to me and my family. Of all the things I wished for Tom in this life … more than anything, I wanted him to be happy. I think that we (his family) can all take comfort in knowing that his was a life well lived … and that in the end, he was indeed truly happy.

Blue skies & eternal peace little brother … you are much loved, and will be forever missed by all that were fortunate enough to have known you.

Your Big Brother - David

(Say hi to Mom, and give her a big hug for me)

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