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Statue Memorializes St. Fisher College Alum, Fallen Soldier Thomas Way

Nov 11, 2015

Family and friends of Thomas Way gathered at the unveiling of a statue in his honor at St. John Fisher College
Credit Veronica Volk / WXXI

A statue was unveiled outside St. John Fisher College in remembrance of the only alumnus known to have died in Vietnam.

Thomas Urban Way, or Tommy, graduated from Fisher in 1966. He had a mop of curly red hair, he loved to play soccer, and by all accounts, he was one of the good ones.

His sister, Betty Bufano, remembers him fondly.

"He had a zest for life that can't be matched. He was a natural athlete who was happiest playing with friends. His smile was infectious, as was the twinkle in his green eyes. I often said he came to Fisher, not so much for an education, but to see how many more friends he could accumulate. By the looks of the turnout today, I would say he met his goal."

After he graduated, Way was hired to work for Eastman Kodak as part of their sales team, before being drafted into the US Army, and sent to Vietnam. He lost his life in combat a few days after his birthday in October, 1967.

But in the memorial erected in his honor, Way is very much alive. He is shown playing soccer with two small Vietnamese children.

Bufano says she's honored to see her brother memorialized this way.

Way is remembered as a great athlete and a gregarious, compassionate person.
Credit Veronica Volk / WXXI

"I read not too long ago that a soldier never dies until no one utters his or her name. Well, Tom, it looks like you'll live on at St. John Fisher College for a very long time."

At the statue's unveiling, other friends and classmates recalled fond memories of the gregarious, compassionate young man, including Jerry Vasile.

"The bottom line is that he was one of us. He was one of our own. He was a son, a brother, a classmate, a teammate, a friend, a certainly, a comrad in arms."

A group of alumni and former classmates of Way's arranged to have a statue erected in his honor. The plaque on its base reads:

No matter the place or the circumstance, we can make a positive difference in the lives of others.