My friend Tom Suiter
Posted December 18, 2008 8:51 a.m. EST
Updated December 18, 2008 9:49 a.m. EST
When people ask me what Tom Suiter is like, my first thought is "first-class." He is the epitome of a class act.
I've known Tom since I first started working at WRAL-TV back in 1996. Since then, we've shared a lot of stories and laughs. Tom is responsible for a lot of headaches -- all laughter-induced. Dinners with Tom turn into 3-hour laugh riots. I leave with aching sides from laughing so hard. It's like recovering from a strenuous workout.
Tom is a thoughtful man. I know about some of his random acts of kindness, but he'd prefer they stay private. I will tell you about one involving me. When we have big weather events that require wall-to-wall coverage, the station reserves hotel rooms for the staff. I was working on the WRAL assignment desk during the big snowstorm in January 2000. I went to work, but came down with the flu. Management sent me and my germs back to the hotel.
I got a knock on my hotel door the next afternoon. It was a photographer-friend from the station. She picked up Tom from his house that afternoon to bring him to work. She told Tom about my sickness. He stopped to buy me a good, healthy dinner and sent it along with her.
Tom is a mentor. He has helped start a lot of young careers in news and sports. Tom's guidance and advice over the years have meant a lot to me and so many others. His support helped me realize a dream. It's intimidating to walk confidently through the WRAL newsroom when you're 18 years old and trying to figure out what you're doing. Tom is one of the friendliest faces they see. His decency, his willingness to share a good laugh and his penchant to break into song (!) all work to put you at ease.
You know that he's a legend. A broadcaster par excellence. But I wanted to tell you that he's a human being par excellence.
I am grateful that I can count him as a friend.