When I first moved to California, there was one person who made a big impression on my life and it’s never been the same. Tom Castiglia, President of the SharePoint User Group, and Founder of the .NET User Group in San Diego was all about community. The first month I was there I had offered to help Tom and the SharePoint Saturday San Diego event committee. I had some crazy ideas about doing a speaker party on the beach with fusion Hawaiian food and fire and hula dancers. Tom didn’t shut me down despite the fact I accidentally planned a trip to Colombia and Bolivia over the top of that weekend. I heard everyone had a great time, but Tom helped me pull it off without hesitation.
Up bright and early for SharePoint Bloggers breakfast before the keynote and on the second row… Tom had Passion!!
The next month I was at the User group with some rough news. I was in the middle of trying to buy a house with an unknown closing date. It was during the committee meeting for the user group that I brought up I was out of work and looking. I didn’t really have any time to make anything happen… Tom reached out and I believe he stuck his neck out to take a chance on bringing me on at the small San Diego based business. A day later I was talking to Neal and Arjay and the following Monday I was working with him at Hershey. I was able to keep our house and with no drama my prayers were answered.
Some of the Hershey SharePoint team at a recent little reunion.
We’d share a room at the upcoming Ignite event, and nearly every waking moment of that event we were together. My SharePoint friends were his friends, and the San Diego User Group and SharePoint crew got really tight. Haaron Gonzales, Chris Givens, Randy Williams, Galen, Tony, Ron… you couldn’t find a tighter community. We adopted David Leveille when he moved to San Diego. He had a client in San Diego and lived with Tom and Martha for over a month. Who does that? Tom (and Martha). 1
While I was working with Tom at Hershey we had more than a few lunches together. We shared a lot together. I saw his work ethic first hand. A hard worker with a passion for community and friendships. He told me all about his Old Pros group, and I saw it first hand. Those guys would do anything for each other. Very tight knit group.
The next year in Atlanta for Ignite, Tom, Galen and I got glowing light sabers and we fought with our lazer swords under the laser light show. Tom believed in my crazy ideas and backed me up when I was feeling spontaneous. That’s a rare thing.
I went to more baseball games with Tom in the past few years than the rest of my life combined. He sure loved baseball.
Tom knew how to make people feel wanted and how best to organize an event. Last years SharePoint Saturday San Diego Zoiner opened his home for the speaker dinner. It took things to a much more personal level. Something I’ve strove for. This community is more than a bunch of geeks. It’s family. We all know that.
It didn’t take much to convince Tom to join me on a crazy adventure to SharePoint Saturday in Cuba.
Politics doesn’t divide the SharePoint Community. Tom, Rob, Chris and I met with the Cuban SharePoint folks who sacrificed to tell their stories. I cherish the memories of walking through the dark streets of Havana with Tom. He put a lot of trust in me. It was one of the first times they’d left Ben alone and for so long. Tom tells the story that Ben had a secret, but due to their strong relationship, he couldn’t hold it a secret for long and Tom would handle the situation like a good father would.
Tom was the glue that has kept the community here in southern California together. Through ups and downs and thick and thin… Even when Microsoft said we couldn’t keep meeting in San Diego, he pushed to get us what we needed to keep going. He has put his own money into buying pizzas on more than one occasion, traveling to SharePoint events all over the country and beyond. His impact cannot be measured. As a Nintex vTE he helped people for free all over the world, and those developers and engineers are deeply indebted to his graciousness and technical knowledge.
Tom invited me and a few SharePoint friends to his 50th birthday party. This wasn’t the first birthday he invited me to. During the first year we moved here, he invited me into his home and my little boy Dean danced and danced at his party. We all felt comfortable at Tom’s house… We could be ourselves. Being at Tom’s house belt like being at home… being there felt like family.
Only a week ago, Tom helped me do some shopping and helped me throw the biggest party I’ve ever had. I had commitments on Thursday and Friday and he took time out of his week to go shopping mid week. Super nice guy. Tons of Love. He opened his heart and we’ll never be the same. I miss my friend, but know he’ll be waiting for us all for a big party on the other side… with a brass cup and some ginger beer. I’m sure he’s working with the Angels on their Records Management in the meantime.
Tom, I’ll miss your non judgmental smile and your never give up and do what it takes to make it work personality. I promise to do what I can to keep the community together, and I’ll never forget the way you made us all feel… loved.
If you know or were inspired by Tom, I invite you to attend Tom Castiglia’s Funeral which will be on Tuesday February 5th at 10am. http://tomcastiglia.eventbrite.com
Saint Gregory the Great Church, Scripps Ranch, 11451 Blue Cypress Drive, San Diego, CA 92131