WHITE MOUNTAINS – Friday, June 21, the longest day of the year, was a long day for colleagues, friends, fans and family who gathered at Show Low District Auditorium to formally say goodbye to one of the most loved and recognizable voices on the Mountain. Tom Link, a/k/a Tommy Boy, of White Mountain Radio’s Storm 98.5 KRFM, died June 6 in Phoenix.

Tommy Boy was born Sept. 17, 1967. He graduated high school in Phoenix and attended Glendale Community College. He also lived in Washington state and a short while in Texas, but found his way back to Arizona.

While in Washington, Tom got his first taste of radio working in sales. The last nine years he has worked for White Mountain Radio in Lakeside. Tom was a DJ on Oldies KSNX 105.5 and later transitioned to 98.5, where the focus was ‘80s, ‘90s and today.

Tom will be remembered for many things, but definitely for his Tie Dye Friday promotion, so much that people were asked to show up for his memorial in tie dye attire. He will also be remembered for his geo- caching promotion which became his off-time passion with his family as well as fun for his listeners.

Tom’s wife Pamela, who has now found a seat in Tom’s radio chair on The Storm, welcomed everyone and invited attendees in their personal lives by sharing their love story which began at Walmart. She worked in the cash office and he worked as a cashier. Work circumstances caused him to have to wait for her on their first date for an hour and a half, but he waited. As their relationship blossomed, he also had to wait for her to say yes to his proposal. He asked her to marry him in an email and she replied, “Ask me in person and I will say yes.” Then he phoned; same reply, but when on a trip to Phoenix, he finally did it properly with a boom box which played their favorite song, a bottle of wine and getting down on one knee. They were married 18 years and have two children, Joseph, 13 and Kimberly, 12. Each also had a child from a previous marriage.

A number of people came to the podium to share their personal memories about Tom. Recently retired General Manager Bob Funk spoke about Tom and his antics regarding the Bob Funk Sports Report. Bob also summed up his relationship with Tom in an email stating, “Tommy Boy Link was a dedicated employee and a valuable asset to White Mountain Radio. You never had to ask him more than once to get a job done, and it was always done correctly. He was a great employee and friend to all. He will be sorely missed. Rest in peace sir!”

Interim General Manager Linda Philbrook also reminisced regarding her time with Tom, his sense of humor and how she loved interacting with him while he was doing a show.

Shaun Ulvestad, a colleague, attributed his self-confidence in radio to Tom. He added, “If it wasn’t for him pushing me to join him on air at remotes or helping him at community events, I doubt I would have ever left the comfort of the front office here at White Mountain Radio. This is my first real job in the working world, and I was blessed to be able to work with him...”

Debbie Shelton, owner of Triple L Boarding and a loyal fan, said, “Tommy recruited us to be a sponsor. His voice was addicting and we followed him wherever he went.”

Some shared their special memories with Tommy while others sat and listened intently paying their respects with their presence. Michelle Gatto of the production department compiled and played some of Tommy’s favorite tunes, among them “War-Low Rider,” which was Tom’s sign in song when he was on the Oldies station. She also included some of the familiar promos for his show.

Tom’s own promo for The Storm on Facebook shows his humor and what was important to him. “Hello there, Tommy Boy your blurry eyed caffeine starved morning DJ from 6 to 9A M-F. I’m a 14 year veteran of radio, happily married to my loving wife Pamela, and I have 2 great kids Joseph and Kimberly. We enjoy family time like board games, fishing and geocaching. We currently live in Lakeside AZ so if you see me out and about be sure and say hi.”

Pamela said that Tom started at White Mountain Radio Feb. 1, 2010, and began on air March 1 after securing show sponsors. “He loved radio and loved talking,” affirmed Pamela. “It is great when you get paid for what you love. He was all about having fun and making people laugh.”

According to Pamela, Tom had taken ill last December but improved and came back to work on January 10 this year. The last day he worked in radio was February 20. His health was up and down and following a hospitalization in April, he was transferred to a rehab facility in the Valley. His condition declined abruptly but she and the kids were able to be with him prior to his death.

Pamela works three jobs – White Mountain Radio, Firehouse Subs and is a merchandiser for Nestles. The family has had extensive medical bills and now funeral expenses. Michelle Shrader, Firehouse Subs franchisee in Show Low and Pamela’s longtime employer, wanted to help. She invited the community to come to the restaurant on Saturday, June 22 and is donating ten percent of the sales that day to Owens Livingston Mortuary to help cover funeral expenses. Shrader also made a bucket available so people could contribute cash donations if they wanted.

Amy Callahan of Trading Post fame, who offered a heartfelt and emotional tribute to her colleague/friend, summed up what many know about Tommy Boy so well. “He found a joke in everything; he loved practical jokes...I know that Heaven will be painted in tie dye when I get there.”

Tom’s favorite quote, “The quest for happiness, begins and ends with you.”

Reach the reporter at bbruce@wmicentral.com

Barbara Bruce is a reporter for the White Mountain Independent, covering arts and entertainment on the Mountain and the Pinetop-Lakeside town government.

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