Tom’s sister, Maddie, summed up his life eloquently with the phrase, “Everything came easy to Tom.” It truly did - with the exception of his birth! He was born on a bitter, cold January afternoon in 1996, and he was in no hurry. However, when he finally arrived, he was absolutely beautiful. It was love at first sight. Tom was a wonderful baby; he slept well, ate well, and hardly fussed. He grew into a toddler in the same fashion. He was a happy, happy little boy.
Tommer was born with a love of basketball, and just as his mother is convinced that his sister did gymnastics in utero, she is quite convinced that Tom did some dribbling while he was in there, too!
Tommy discovered the love of his favorite sport as a baby, since one of his first toys happened to be an infant-sized basketball. And, he honestly started carrying a real one around as an early toddler! Tommy had a love for all sports and was a natural athlete. When he wasn’t on the main floor of the house following his sister’s every move, he could be found downstairs shooting free throws or dunking on his Little Tyke’s basketball hoop either alone, or with his dad.
Tom attended St. Francis Xavier Elementary School in Sartell, MN from Preschool through 6th grade. He played Parochial Athletic Association sports through school (mainly basketball!), played piano, and participated in the yearly plays put on by a theater company. Tom completed his early sacraments, Reconciliation and First Eucharist, through the parish, then moved on to Sartell Middle School for grades seven and eight.
Branching out into the big world of public school was fun for Tom. He had already met many students through various sporting activities and neighborhood events. He slid right into his new world, and he loved it. He was a good student and (naturally) he played sports. Also, in eighth grade, Tom played the character Le Fou in the school production of Beauty and the Beast. He and his friends were cast members and created some wonderful memories for themselves and their parents. What a hoot!
Growing up, Tommy attended a variety of camps and he began to get noticed by coaches at an early age for being quite talented (he even later returned to work at some of those camps when he was older). Tom was always in the driveway dribbling or shooting hoops -- no matter the season. Weather wasn't a factor when it came to basketball at the Bearson household! However, if it was too terrible outside, Tom and his dad happened to know a teacher at St. Francis (his mom!) who could sneak them into the school gym for some practice. No matter what, Tom’s dad could be found at his side sharing his own knowledge, skill, and passion for the game. Like father, like son. They made a great duo.
Tom lived life to the fullest, and his parents tried to provide him with as many opportunities as possible to enjoy his life. He golfed with his mother throughout the summers during his elementary years, and eventually became quite the golfer! He achieved many milestones that other young adolescents dream about. He shot his first turkey at the age of ten, caught a 9 lb. walleye in Canada at age 12, and his dad even taught him to drive at 14 (no one told Mom until after the fact). Tom was fortunate enough to play with some very talented baseball players during the summers following fifth and sixth grade. It was there that he made life-long friends from the Waite Park AAA team that he played on, and friends from the teams that he competed against. Tom’s sports took the Bearson family all over the United States. He also played on two different AAU basketball teams; he was a member of the Minnesota Lockdown and then the Minnesota Comets. Both teams created treasured friendships and memories that Tom talked about fondly and incessantly.
Tom was definitely a skilled basketball player. However, he also played varsity football, varsity baseball, and even varsity track. He had promised the track coach that he would join the team his senior year, and his 4 x 100 relay team ended up making it to state! He was talented at all these sports as well, earning varsity letters in every sport he played. Remember, his sister said everything came easy to him, and sports certainly did. Ironically, he contemplated playing hockey around fifth grade, even to the point that a buddy went to a hockey camp with him. My guess is that Tom would have done well in that sport too.
The human reality of Tom is that he was a typical teenager. He stayed up too late and overslept in the morning, and he was a procrastinator, to boot! These three things alone made his parents crazy. In addition, he kept his room so messy that Mom once threatened to throw away everything that was on the floor (this did result in a clean-up session by him). Yes, a typical teenager, who liked to dress “fresh,” loved fast cars, loud music, and dogs. If Tom wasn’t at the gym getting “jacked,” he was with one of his many, many friends of a variety of ages. Tom also needed cash to do some of these typical teenager functions. Therefore, he had a couple of part-time jobs, one at Coborn's as a bagger, and then at Nahan Printing working the night shift with a good friend.
Tommy enjoyed having as much fun as possible. He was very charismatic with a fantastic sense of humor. He made friends effortlessly with his charm and ability to draw people to him.
Now, for a little more parent bragging… Much of Tom’s Sartell High School athletic career was focused on basketball, and he achieved most goals that he set for himself. In basketball, he was a varsity starting player as a ninth grader, was varsity defensive player of the year his sophomore year, varsity co-MVP his junior year, and varsity MVP and captain his senior year. There were other major milestones that occurred during those years as well. During his junior season, Tom helped lead the team to the school’s only state tournament as the leading scorer. During his senior year, Tom scored his 1000th point, and ultimately became the fifth leading all-time scorer in the Sartell record books. Tom was known for his shooting and ball handling. However, he was an all-around player who also ranked high in the record book for assists and steals.
Tom was quite humble about these achievements. He chose to tuck away his plaques, medals, and trophies through the years. They were not brought out again until his big high school graduation party. His most treasured and proudly displayed items for graduation were the actual basketball that marked his 1000th point (not for the points - but that it was signed by his dad, his current coach, and his previous coach who started him as a ninth grader), and the wonderful picture of himself and that same previous coach after winning the section finals Tom’s junior year. It is fair to say that Tom didn’t care all that much about most of the awards he won; what he did care about was having fun with his teammates, and of course, winning.
Tom’s high school career ended and the following summer went as any typical 18 year-old post highschooler’s would. Part-time job, hang out with friends, work-out, stay out late, and -- of course -- sleep in. The summer flew by too quickly, and soon it was time to pack his belongings for college.
Tom attended North Dakota State University, and his plans were to enter the nursing program, graduate, and then work his way into a nurse-anesthetist program. When we moved Tom into his NDSU dorm room, naturally, Mom had no desire to leave, wanting to make the bed and put things in their proper place. Of course, Tom wanted to do that himself. We said our good-byes, and then drove home with heavy hearts.
Tom visited home exactly one week before he died. We had a beautiful time together watching home movies and talking about life. In hindsight, it's ironic that we had done those things. It was the first time we had ever watched home movies with him. We had no way of knowing that we would never see him alive again. We thank God for that beautiful last weekend together. It truly was a blessing. Our only disappointment is that his sister wasn’t there to share it with us.
Tom was at NDSU for only four short weeks when he was murdered on September 20, 2014. At the time of this posting, the specifics to Tom’s death have not been released, and we do not know who did this to our amazing son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin, and friend.
Dearly loved, deeply missed, forever in our hearts.