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Fisher unveils statue in memory of alumnus Way

St. John Fisher College honored Thomas Urban Way, a 1966 graduate and member of the U.S. Armed Forces, by unveiling a statue of him on Veterans Day. Courtesy St. John Fisher College

St. John Fisher College honored Thomas Urban Way, a 1966 graduate and member of the U.S. Armed Forces, by unveiling a statue of him on Veterans Day. Courtesy St. John Fisher College

St. John Fisher College honored Thomas Urban Way, a 1966 graduate and member of the U.S. Armed Forces, by unveiling a statue commissioned in his memory.

Way, who was drafted into the Army in 1967, shortly after graduating from Fisher, died in combat while serving in the Vietnam War, just three weeks into his tour of duty.

The college, his fellow alumni and friends commissioned sculptor Timothy P. Schmalz to create a bronze statue to honor Way and capture his love of soccer, which he was known to have played with children in the streets of Vietnam.

On Veterans Day, more than 80 members of Way’s family, classmates and friends helped formally unveil the Thomas Urban Way ’66 Memorial Statue, which is situated adjacent to Founders Hall and the Polisseni Track and Field Complex, near the statue of the Rev. John Cavanaugh.

“The Thomas Urban Way Memorial is a tribute to Tom’s life and his sacrifice,” said college President Gerard Rooney. “Tom will forever be remembered on this campus as a special member of our Fisher family.”

Born in Spring Lake, New Jersey, and raised in Rochester, Way was also a graduate of McQuaid Jesuit High School. He was hired by Eastman Kodak Company shortly after earning his degree from Fisher and completed a sales training program before he was drafted into the Army.

On Oct. 9, 1967, Way was killed by small arms fire during action against the Viet Cong in the Mekong Delta. He was recognized for his honorable service by the U.S. Army, receiving the Military Merit Medal and the Gallantry Cross with Palm, both awarded by the government of the Republic of Vietnam.  He was also awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Heroism by U.S. President Lyndon Johnson.

At the ceremony Nov. 11, representatives of the White Sabers Drum and Bugle Corps and its honor guard presented the colors, while Measure 13, the College’s a cappella group, sang the National Anthem. Michael Stein, a current finance major at Fisher and U.S. Army veteran who was deployed in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in 2011 and 2012, noted his pride in being able to honor a fellow infantryman.

“He [Way] is counted among our honored fallen, a man who laid down his life because it was his duty, and because he wanted to protect his comrades,” said Stein, who is president of the College’s Veterans Affairs Club.

The dedication also included remarks by Way’s close friends from his days at Fisher, Dr. Jerry Vasile ’67 and Dave McEneany ’66.

Way’s sisters, Betty Bufano and Mary Boyer, also shared reflections of his life before presenting President Rooney with a flag in Way’s honor.

“Today’s dedication of this memorial is a breathtaking testimony to the many lives Tom touched,” said Boyer. “With this memorial, you have ensured that Tom’s generosity of spirit will live on.”