FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 23, 2011
MAYOR BLOOMBERG DELIVERS EULOGY FOR SANITATION WORKER THOMAS LERMAND
The following are Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s remarks as prepared for delivery this morning at the Guarino Funeral Home in Brooklyn:
“Thank you, Monsignor. This morning, at public buildings all across the five boroughs, New Yorkers will see flags flying at half-staff. If they ask you why that’s so, tell them that it’s a tribute to one of New York City’s Strongest – who happened to be one of our kindest, too. The man we’re here to honor today: Tommy Lermand.
“So Barbara, Kelly, Karen, Loretta, Richard: like you, we’re all saddened to lose Tommy. And speaking on behalf of 8.4 million New Yorkers, we’re also incredibly grateful for the 16 years of dedicated service he gave to the greatest city in the world.
“For the people who mattered most to him, Tommy went all out. That included everyone he worked with on the early shift at Garage BK 18 – the guys he invariably greeted with a smile at each morning roll call. They’ll tell you that Tommy was always giving – never taking.
“If you pulled into the garage parking lot with your car brakes squealing, Tommy was right there with his toolkit, saying, ‘Hey, let’s change the pads; you don’t need to pay a mechanic.’ And he was always generous with his seemingly bottomless supply of store and restaurant coupons. A tireless bargain-hunter – and maybe a bit of packrat, too – he had a real thing about coupons. He kept stacks of them everywhere: in his car; in his day bag; in his locker. A good guy to know during the holiday shopping season – or any time of year.
“But coupons weren’t all you’d see in Tommy’s locker. Pride of place there, and in his wallet, went to his photos of you, Barbara. And of you, Karen and Kelly. And in recent years, of the little granddaughter that he doted on too: you, Mia.
“The women in his life meant a lot to him. How much? Well, Tommy had an allergy: cat hair. If any of you suffer from that allergy, you know it’s really no fun. But Barbara loves having cats. So Tommy took allergy medication and shots, without complaints so she could have the pets she adores.
“And he always closed out his end-of-the-shift phone calls to her with these words: ‘I love you, baby.’ One of the guys overheard that once, and then asked Tommy: ‘How come you never tell us that?’ Well, he did care about you all – just not that way.
“Tommy was loyal to his friends and loving to his family. But there was one thing that he was truly head-over-heels about: model trains. They were a childhood passion that he was lucky enough never to outgrow.
“He collected them, and traded them, in all sizes and models. He read up on them in magazines, and while browsing the internet. If there was a model train convention in town, you’d find Tommy there. No holiday season would be complete without a trip to the Bronx to see the fantastic model train show at the New York Botanical Garden. And when he got in the mood, he’d run some of his own trains on the tracks he would set up through his home in Holliswood.
“He loved his models – and he also dreamed even bigger. Recently, Ray Holloway, his longtime truck partner, showed him an old photo. Ray was eight years old, and sitting in a train cab, engineer’s cap planted on his head, next to his dad, a railroad fireman who was letting Ray ‘drive.’ Tommy’s eyes got as big as saucers. And it wasn’t too long before Tommy started planning a vacation at a train ‘fantasy camp,’ where he could make his own dreams of driving the real thing come true. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it – not in this lifetime, anyway. But if there’s any justice, then in his next life, Tommy will be barreling down the tracks somewhere soon, with a big grin on his face.
“Those are some of the things that we’ll remember about this good and decent man. And let me add this as well. Long before dawn on this December morning, Sanitation crews were out on our City streets, making them cleaner and safer for us all – just as Tommy did for 16 years. The work that he did so well – and that many of you do, too – is hard and demanding. And it makes a huge difference for our city. It enables the rest of us to enjoy everything New York has to offer.
“Sometimes, it’s taken for granted; people don’t remember often enough what an important job it is. But I want you to know that I’ll always respect everyone who’s part of the best Sanitation Department anywhere. So may God bless the memory of one of our Strongest, Tommy Lermand. And may God bless and protect you all.”
Stu Loeser / Marc La Vorgna (212) 788-2958
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