Remembering our dear friend
On January 14, First Presbyterian Church and Florence lost a dear friend in the passing of Tom Kellam. Tom was the Pastoral’s Assistant at First Presbyterian Church for many years who ministered to the congregation as well as many people of the Florence community.
Tom was a dear friend of mine as well as a great Christian who never met a stranger. I have many fond memories of Tom. For instance, when a group from FPC would spend a weekend at Montreat, Tom and I would sit on a bench on the sidewalk outside the stores in Black Mountain while the women shopped. Tom would start a conversation with everyone that passed. I would just watch and listen. That individual would leave Tom’s presence feeling he or she had encountered a saint.
Many members of FPC will remember Tom sitting in the hospital waiting room during an operation of a family member. Many members will tell you that the first person they met when they visited FPC when looking for a church home was Tom Kellam. Tom also was known for his eulogies for both friend and church members, adding a touch of nostalgia and humor. His contributions to FPC, as well as the Florence community are numerous. He served on the board of several charitable organizations such as The Salvation Army. Tom started Keenagers, originated the Turkey Open Golf on Thanksgiving, started the Tuesday morning men’s prayer breakfast, as well as the Thursday morning men’s breakfast at the Presbyterian Home. Tom also initiated the Christmas food boxes for the needy in the Florence community. He played Santa to many church Christmas parties, as well as several in the Florence community.
Tom was a special friend and confidante for some forty years.
Our loss is Heaven’s gain.
A Tribute to ‘Saint Tom’
In Paul’s letter to the Hebrews (13:2), he admonishes believers to welcome strangers into their homes. In doing so, we may entertain angels unawares. This was our experience at First Presbyterian Church when Tom Kellam came to reside in our hearts and homes. He came with no policy, no program, no committee, and no agenda. He simply came to love us and that was more than enough. For forty years his wisdom and winsomeness endeared him to all who knew him. He was the glue that held us together in times of triumph and tragedy, but he was also the sparkle who brought fun to every encounter and experience. Within Tom was the light of the divine – the eternal love of Christ and we recognized our gift. Our association with him simply made us better people, and so we are grateful. While there is deep sadness that there will be no public celebration of his life, we are comforted knowing that we did, in fact, entertain an angel. To God be the glory for such a life. He was our very own “Saint Tom.”