Tom Kane: A Life Fully Lived

Tom Kane: A Life Fully Lived

The Upper Delaware River threads through and entwines the towns and lives of the people living along its borders in Pennsylvania and New York. Those of us living in the river valley love this powerful water body for all that she gives; we respect her for her power to take; and we are reminded that she also receives.

On August 9, the mighty river enfolded our beloved friend, Tom Kane, into her sweeping flow and delivered his worn body to the shoreline just south of the Narrowsburg, New York bridge.

Tom crossed that green metal span countless times in his travels throughout the river valley as he attended cultural events, participated in community causes and covered the region as a reporter for The River Reporter.

Photo of author Tom Kane with Sandy Long of Heron's Eye Communications.

Sandy Long & Tom Kane.

That’s how we came to know the dashing man whose feisty spirit continues to enliven our cherished memories. Krista and I have both served as reporters for the weekly newspaper covering Pike and Wayne counties in PA and Sullivan County in New York.

We had the pleasure of seeing Tom ferret out the facts of many a story, while working to unravel complexities and expose inconsistencies. As stated so perfectly in his obituary, he took “a great interest in understanding the Why of everything.” His determination to dog an issue for its truths was nowhere more evident than in his coverage of the ongoing dairy crisis, which he followed closely for many years.

A man who fully embraced his life, Tom was also a published author and sang leading roles in the Delaware Valley Opera Company. He became a Roman Catholic priest and served for 10 years in the priesthood. An intense interior crisis with the ruling elite of the church drove his decision to leave the church and become an activist and the author of “Good Church, Bad Church: One Priest’s Indictment of the Vatican.”

Over time, our bonds with Tom deepened with shared experiences—fiery editorial meetings, memorable trips to the annual New York Press Association conferences, parties and cultural events and road trips to assess the impacts of gas drilling on people and their communities or to cover meetings where momentous environmental decisions were made.

Throughout, Tom hung tough and walked his talk, even covering his beat while recovering from knee surgery.

His community connections ranged far and wide, bringing a big crowd to the celebration of his 80th birthday five years ago. Compliments and wisecracks flowed as family, friends, loved ones and colleagues shared their special moments and memories.

When our journalistic paths eventually parted, Tom kept tabs on our work at Heron’s Eye Communications, checking in with a phone call or paying attention to our activity via social media. We last saw our friend at the opening of Sandy’s photography exhibit Wild Beauty: The Artful Nature of Shenandoah National Park.

Tom had called in advance to say he would join us, and arrived leaning on a cane to help thwart increasing challenges with balance. Together, we bemoaned the impacts of aging and railed a bit about the unfairness of it all. We hugged and assumed we’d see each other again.

That was not to be. Instead, Tom entered the river and its wild, wild flow. It was an unusually beautiful day—the height of summer, warm and brilliant with light, scudding white clouds against a mad blue sky. He said goodbye.

We’ll remember him singing karaoke at Sandy’s 40th birthday bash, rich and gusty tenor voice building to a heart-thumping crescendo, flashing white grin, handsome visage topped with that trademark mat of thick white hair.

We’ll remember him hustling off in his small white car to cover the crash or photograph the fire, or ambling out the office door to snap an award-winning picture of Little Lake Erie cloaked in snow. We’ll remember his love for his loved ones, and his fondness for our friendship.

We will remember, Tom.

The river takes. The river gives. The river receives.

Flow along on your journey, dear friend.


A  celebration of Tom Kane’s life will be held Sunday, September 13, from 1 to 4 pm, at the Grace Episcopal Parish House on Church Street (near 9th St) in Honesdale, PA. Members of his family and close friends will offer reminiscences. Wine and light refreshments will be served on the patio after the service.

Memorial gifts may be made to the following organizations that were near and dear to Tom’s heart:

Delaware Valley Opera, Box 446, Narrowsburg, NY 12764
SEEDS c/o The Cooperage, 1030 Main Street, Honesdale, PA 18431
Wayne County Public Library, 1406 North Main Street, Honesdale, PA 18431
Wayne County YMCA, 105 Park Street, Honesdale, PA 18431

  1. Thank you so much for this moving tribute, and joyful photos, that capture Tom’s unique spirit. Your words brought both sorrow and joy to me and Pat.

  2. Dear Barbara
    I’m so grateful to read Sandy’s beautiful tribute. Thank you for sending it along.
    Dear Sandy
    Your words of love for Tom and his work are an inspiration. I can see Tom himself smiling in approval and appreciation. Your respect for Tom as well as the river is evident throughout. Everyone should have a friend with such gifts to write their story!

  3. Thank you for words of appreciation for Tom’s life. We look forward to meeting you at the celebration on September 13.

  4. Thank you Sandy for your perfect words capturing Tom.
    Thank you Barbara for sharing Sandy’s essay.

  5. Thank you so much for this tribute to Tom – it brought me to tears – yes, they are tears of sorrow and loss, but they are also tears of the joy of having had Tom in my life.

  6. Sandy…Thank you for your lovely tribute to Tom. Thank you, also, for your most heartfelt description of Tom’s and your strong and loving friendship. It’s sad, indeed, yet wonderful to read so many different comments about Tom from such a variety of people…his friends, who each, in our own way, shall remember him because of our own special experiences with Tom.

  7. Dear Sandy and Barbara:

    Sandy, thank you for that beautiful, heart felt tribute to Tom. I became envious of you…that I didn’t get to know him longer and better.

    Barbara: Thank you for passing Sandy’s essay to me. He will be dearly missed. You both are in our thoughts and hearts.


  8. Wonderfully well said.

  9. Sandy,
    I’m so grateful to you for this warm and beautiful tribute to Tom.
    I know what mutual respect and affection you shared as colleagues and friends.
    Thank you for sharing those memories and so much more with us.

  10. So beautiful, Sandy. Thanks for saying it in a way that really honors

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