Thomas Rogers Forbes, Jr. died peacefully while sitting in his favorite chair on Friday, May 12th, three days shy of his 85th birthday. A deeply beloved husband, father, grandfather and brother, Tom is survived by the love of his life, wife Liz, his two children Amy and Wade, his daughter in law Megan, and four grandchildren Owen, Ryan, Addison and Drew. His family and his community of friends and staff at Willow Valley in Lancaster, PA will remember him for his great kindness, bright smile, sharp sense of humor and gratitude for his family, care and life at Willow Valley.
Tom was born in Baltimore, MD to parents Thomas and Helen Forbes. Along with his younger brother Bill, their family moved to New Haven, CT where Tom spent most of his childhood. Smart, eager to learn and athletic, Tom was a strong student and wonderful athlete growing up. As a child, he fell deeply in love with the Boston Red Sox and followed them closely throughout his life. When they finally ended their 84-year World Series drought in 2004 by sweeping the Cardinals, his daughter Amy made the mistake of calling it “anti-climatic” and he replied “Daughter, there is nothing anti-climatic about the Red Sox winning the World Series!”
Tom was fourth generation in his family to attend the University of Rochester where he studied American History, played soccer, tennis and squash and was president of his class and Psi Upsilon fraternity. In his later years, whenever the Willow Valley staff feared he might fall he would remind them that he was a soccer goalie and knew how to fall without getting hurt (“I’m no good on the ground!”). He would go on to complete his MBA at Harvard University and started his Ph.D. at Brown University, before withdrawing after falling ill. He began a career in higher education, specializing in career services and moving to multiple states to work at various institutions.
He would tell you “the best thing that ever happened to me” was when he met his wonderful wife Liz while both lived in New York City in their mid-thirties. They dated for several years before marrying in 1973. They would eventually move to Ewing, NJ for Tom’s job at the College of New Jersey. To Tom’s great delight, they would have twins, Amy and Wade, in 1978. Tom threw himself into being a loving father, rarely missing a game, concert or play as Amy and Wade grew up. Amy and Wade remember his unconditional love for them, his interest in their activities, his witty one-liners, his advice about managing their finances, and one story in particular when he was teaching them how to drive, when Wade got a little over-zealous behind the wheel, and Tom exclaimed, “RED LIGHT, RED LIGHT, RED LIGHT!”
Tom would take a position at the NJ State Department of Labor where he would work for 27 years. He begrudgingly retired in 2008 but quickly realized the joy of becoming “Gramps” to Owen and Ryan in 2009 and 2012, respectively. He and Liz would make their way to Willow Valley where Tom would thrive in his new retirement community, meeting friends, exercising on the NuStep every day, playing Bingo, learning how to craft and writing sweet poetry to his family. Despite his active social life, he made time to edit Amy’s doctoral dissertation, was Wade’s best salesperson with his published seasonal journals and always got excited to go to the Red Lobster with Liz. He would welcome two more grandchildren, Addison and Drew, in 2017 and had firmly established himself in his home at Willow Valley, “The Glen.” The staff will remember his appreciation for their care, saying “delicious” after every meal and his disbelief that he had ended up in such a good place.
Though his family is deeply saddened at his loss, they cherish their time with their “Gramps” where he would smile, laugh and sit quietly amidst the chaotic holidays with his grandchildren. We take comfort that he was a man of great faith, family and kindness to others and share in the sentiment that while Tom persevered through a lot, he still left this world filled with gratitude.
In lieu of flowers, family and friends can make gifts to the nurses’ scholarship fund addressed to The Mathias J. Brunner Fund, 211 Willow Valley Sq., Lancaster, PA 17602 or the Memory Care Center at the Willow Valley Communities Charitable Foundation at 100 Willow Valley Lakes Drive, Willow Street, PA 17584 on behalf of Tom if they wish. We thank you for all your love and support during this time. We also send our warmest gratitude to the staff at Willow Valley’s “The Glen,” specifically the 3rd Floor and 5th Floor, South, for their exceptional care of Tom. A Celebration of Life will be held in early July.
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