It’s one of those stories that get passed around over and over. It happened in San Fransisco, at the ATSI meeting back in 1999. Prior to the beginning of the meeting a bunch of Snuggies (and others) were sitting in the Conga Room at the Fairmont Hotel, running a tab, and sharing the joy of seeing old friends. The adorable Asian waitress needed to close her tabs as she went off duty and she asked who should get the bill. Others pointed to Tom, and since she had overheard him introduced at the table as “Tom, Reandeau, Donna West’s son,” she went to him and asked if he was “Don-A-Wesson.” And forever, it seems, that name has stuck with all the giggles and grins it garners and deserves. They were drinking Volcano’s and one cup just happened to get mixed in Tom’s luggage: it’s now a candy dish on his desk and a very fond memory. That was his introduction to ATSI.
Full disclosure: Tom Reandeau is Donna West’s son – my son – but he is so much more and as you might imagine, it is a little difficult writing this article slipping back and forth between 1st and 3rd person, but he deserves to have his story told, so please indulge me.
Tom Reandeau is a little laid back, is happier in quiet settings than in crowds, and likes to think things through before making up his own mind, and not always with the most popular point of view. He will rarely speak ill of anyone, but he is fiercely loyal and there is never a doubt who he supports.
After graduating from high school, Tom’s love of fast cars led him to a six-year military commitment. “Testing out the speed of my new to me 1967 AMC Marlin (clocked at 117 on a back road, Yes!) resulted in a loss of my provisional driver’s license and a hefty – hefty fine. I told the cop I had to see how fast it would go, and he replied, “Well, I understand, but apparently it goes too fast.” So, I followed in my father’s footsteps and joined the Air Force in October 1986, for a 6-year term. The following year Susie Rubino, my high school sweetheart and still the love of my life, joined me in Merced, California where I spent the majority of my service career. We were married in Merced on December 20, 1987, and are still just as in love as ever all these years later.”
“I proudly served in Operation Desert Storm, mostly in Fairford, England. After serving in the Military Police and spending some time writing manuals, which, surprisingly, I enjoyed, we made the decision to leave the military life and return to Rochester, New York where Susie and I grew up. I was employed at ADT where I started at the bottom, answering alarm calls, and was soon, once again, engaged in writing training. It’s funny how what we have done in the past seems to be repeated in the future,” he observed.
“Donna started Focus in 1987, at the same time I was getting settled in the military. In 1993 she and my stepfather, Chuck, had made the decision to go with Startel’s platform, and they asked me to come to work at Focus, to help with – what else – training and writing the training for this adventure. After much deliberation, Susie and I decided to accept the offer and moved to Maryland in November 1994. I have never regretted it! I love the job, the people, the atmosphere, and the industry. The only thing that could make it better is if it wasn’t 24/7 365. We’re working on that,” he laughed.
It was good to be close to my mom when the twins were born two and a half years later. My family means everything to me,” he admitted proudly, “Susie and I have three beautiful, intelligent, well-rounded daughters that we truly enjoy hanging with! Even though they are all out on their own, and doing extremely well, our house is still command central and several nights a week we have some (or all and their great spouses) over for dinner or games or just TV watching. They say they have married guys just like their dad, which makes me more honored than I can express. Amanda, Assistant Director of Alumni Relations, the older twin by 23 minutes, is married to Harrison, a park ranger and they just purchased their first home. Ashley, a devoted second grade teacher, got engaged in her grandma’s back yard to childhood sweetheart, Ryan, and bought their house two years ago. Cassidy recently graduated from Drexel University with a bachelor’s degree in Biological Science and a Minor in Geoscience, and is now employed by the University of Maryland Baltimore, working on cancer research. She and her fiancé Brian will be married this coming June.”
“Susie operates a licensed day care in our home, and I am absolutely addicted to her little ones. I’m authorized as her substitute and I’m the financial guru of her company,” he acknowledged. “The minute work is over for the day, I join the group for snuggles and fun. It’s a great perk of working from home.”
In 2011 at a SNUG meeting in Albuquerque Tom was shocked to hear his name spoken in the hush just before Sheryl Denny announced the winner of the Don Berry Award. He had worked tirelessly (and tiredly) on the Wibit Modules for the Hypertrack Learning Management project (not to be confused with the Snug training modules) and was very proud of the results. In describing Tom, April Kasza, 2011 President, said, “This person has matured into workaholic whose commitment, dedication and loyalty to this organization amazes me daily. He has served two, four-year terms on the SNUG Board, and largely devoted himself to chairing the Education Committee.” Tom explained, “The president of our company was so involved in education, I wanted to follow in her footsteps. I’ve always been in education from those first days in the military, until today. Making sure our employees know what to do and how to do it is how we succeed. And sharing our knowledge is what makes our company and our industry so great.”
“I love being a pioneer,” Tom stated. “It isn’t always easy, but it is so rewarding. I was proud to be able to help others during Covid when so many had to go remote without the benefit of a slow and planned transition. We were happy to share our experiences. I have done that presentation so many times I think I could do it in my sleep, but there is always someone for whom the information is new or timely or absolutely necessary!”
And no article about Tom would be complete without talking about his love of animals, dogs in particular. Bella, the small white dog was a hand-me-down from a family member who found they were allergic to dogs. She’s been with Tom and Sue for years. But Tom really wanted a big dog. So, a couple of years ago Tom and Sue found an Australian Shephard litter ready to go to good homes. Several hours drive later, and many dollars poorer, they acquired Bindi, who is definitely not a little dog, but still thinks she is. And Tom loves every minute of it.