Grace Presybterian Church, Houston, Texas, May 18, 2004

During dark times like these, words often fail us as we attempt to describe and communicate the depth and intensity of our feelings. The days since May 1st have been some of the darkest that any of us can recall. We lost six of our loved ones in an inexplicable act of terror, fallen colleagues taken away from us too soon and without warning.  ABB Lummus Global's Houston General Manager, Chris Lloyd-Jones is in Connecticut at the funeral of one of our colleagues ~ Steve LaGuardia and he, along with the whole ABB family, pass on their deepest sympathies to the Washburn family. Our thoughts and prayers today go out to them. They have shown incredible strength and dignity in helping his friends and colleagues deal with the last two weeks as Thom gently slipped away from us.

All of us here today and many in countries around the world, were fortunate to have had Thom Washburn touch our lives. He and I spent time together upon his arrival to Houston, after surviving the attack in Saudi Arabia. It had been a long journey for Thom and his parents on an air ambulance, but he was up-beat. We had an opportunity to speak about many things into the wee hours of the morning his first day back. He was concerned about his colleagues, his friends, his family, the project, golf, baseball, but not about himself. He was relieved to be in Houston, ready to tackle the challenges of a long road to recovery. Thom Washburn was always ready for challenges.

We are all aware of the challenges facing our industry today. Being second generation in this business, Thom had a unique perspective on the changes and challenges that lay ahead. He was successfully building a career that would position himself to combine his natural leadership qualities and love for life with a foundation of "real world" experience.

Starting as a chemical engineer then pursuing his MBA, he was most recently rapidly progressing through the ABB Lummus organization.  His successful home office and field assignments had led to his most recent promotion as our project leader for the Yanpet expansion.  This was recognition that he was proud of, as he instinctly knew it was the next natural, progressive step towards a position of industry leadership and ultimately industry shaping.  Thom was destined to have a real leadership role in our industry as he had done in so many aspects of his life.

© 2005 Sheila Washburn

Thom was taken away from us too soon.  His rise to stardom cut short. His generation, my generation, our generations have suffered a great setback, one so great we all question our own will to continue. All generations before us have suffered from the loss of their best and brightest. We, like those before us, must find the way forward. We all know deep in our hearts that Thom would have it no other way. It is now our responsibility to pull from Thom's great strength of personality, of character, and of sheer willpower to persevere in our own lives with a greater sense of purpose.

Wherever Thom is today, looking down upon us all, we must continue with vigor and purpose, so:

I'd like to conclude by sharing a thought that was sent to me by one of Thom's colleagues at Lummus.

It goes without saying that, because of his heart of gold, he has left a lasting impression that touched all who knew him.  So to all of Thom's friends, colleagues and family, his spirit towards life and people can live on in each of us if we choose to make an extra effort as he did to share a kind gesture towards someone, as simple as offering your smile.

Jeffrey Reilly, Vice President
Engineering Operations, ABB Lummus Global Inc.

Return to Top

Thom's Page