Tom Bashara at Pavement Test Plots in Austin, TX
Earlier today I was shocked to learn of the loss of my friend and colleague, Tom Bashara.  He was a young man with a young family which deepens our sense of loss.

Often the USGS has anonymously referred to Tom as "an astute City of Austin employee" who noticed that just above a contaminated stream tributary was a freshly sealed coal tar lot.  He was the first to figure out that coal tar sealants are a potent source of pollution; the co-author of numerous papers on the subject; the first and main "boots on the ground" enforcement officer of Austin's coal tar sealant ban; and the co-inventor of the field test for determining the presence of coal tar sealant.  He never wanted the limelight, only to make a difference, which he did immensely.

Update 5-24-11: Here's an edited video of the Austin City Council meeting in 2005 where Tom is acknowledged as the discoverer of this PAH source:

Much more than this, he was an example of true Christian character; a hard worker at home and at the office; forgiving and willing to help out others as much as he could; a devoted family man; a brilliant, creative man who was a tremendous resource for problem solving; and always good for a laugh or joke.  It is with the spirit of laughter that I have included a copy of a video I made of him testing a parking lot.  He said he laughed so hard at it, that he spilled coffee all over himself.  We'll miss you my friend! 





Related Posts:
City of Austin Names Creek in Honor of Coal Tar Sealant Pollution Pioneer Tom Bashara

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Mary Bell said... April 20, 2011 at 3:43 PM

Thank you for posting this tribute to Tom. He meant so much to me and to all of us in the Environmental Health Services Division of ATCHHSD. I was honored to have been his manager in those years and will never forget his humor, grace energy, and intelligence. In missing him, as we will for the rest of our days, all we can do is honor our "inner Tom" by trying to carry on as he would do.

Anonymous said... April 21, 2011 at 9:26 AM

Thanks Tom E for doing this! Although I am no longer with the City, I will miss Tom B's laugher and dedication to the job and helping others. I like the previous post--"inner Tom" that is how I will remember him. Take care, Tracy Simms

Mike Cannatti said... April 21, 2011 at 6:59 PM

Wow, what a shocking loss. Tom was a grade school buddy from St. Austin's and Austin High, and it was such a pleasure to see this young man grow up to be a fine and smart public servant who did real good for the City with his intensity, his work ethic, and his environmental expertise. Just last year, I was trying to ask him about his environmental work, but he was bragging on his beautiful young family. While we're truly sad to see him go, I know he's done right.

 
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