Updated: Aug 3
Story told by his daughter, Kelly Ziecker
There is a Mark Twain quote that epitomizes my dad, "Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” He was a Buffalo Firefighter for 32 years, and he loved every second of it. One of his most selfless moves during his career was volunteering at Ground Zero days after 9/11. Aside from his job, us four kids were important but spending time with his three grandkids, Jayanna, Bridget, and Jayden was hands down his favorite thing to do. He was the king of getting ice cream, playing pretend, and pushing buttons. He was a memory creator. My dad was a natural storyteller. The best way we honor his memory is telling his stories, continuing his traditions, and sharing our favorites memories with him.
When we were young, he took us to Bisons games, Bills games, we'd go camping every weekend, where we had four wheelers and dirt bikes and got to listen to him tell his stories. He'd take us to the Erie County Fair every day, train rides, and he arranged family vacations for us even when we were adults. He loved to cook for a crowd. He was famous for his prime rib, pot pies, and enchiladas. His favorite holiday was St. Patrick's Day where he'd cook over 100lbs of corned beef and hand out his corned beef sandwiches during the Old First Ward Parade.
My dad was always one of the most selfless people throughout his time with us. As a jack of all trades, he'd help anyone at any time. We talked about organ donation all the time and the specific ways he was able to help. While he wished he could have donated more - knowing that he gave the gift of sight as his final act is exactly how he wanted it. Knowing he was able to donate his corneas provides us with a lot of comfort that he was able to help in that way.
I want people to know how amazing my dad truly was. The amount of knowledge he had to offer was astronomical. He could fix almost anything and if he couldn't he'd find a way to figure it out. While talking about him shortly after he passed one of the most common things people said about him was, he was a protector. He was always running in, while others were running out, whether that was a building or another problem.
He was the best dad, best papa, and best friend anyone could ask for.
Has Thomas' story inspired you to share your hero's story? Submit your story to featured as ConnectLife's next hero highlighted as Hero of the Month here: https://www.connectlife.org/honor-your-hero