Those who knew Tom Love well said he poured his heart and soul into his family.
He and his wife, Susan, raised four kids in Voorhees — Sarah, Emmalee, Tylor and Stephen.
When his sons picked up baseball at a young age, Tom was first in line to pitch in.
An accomplished athlete himself, Tom received many accolades while playing basketball at Camden Catholic and later at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.
“Tom was an extremely dedicated father, who was always interested in coaching his kids,” said Voorhees Police Capt. and Gibbsboro Voorhees Athletic Association president Lou Bordi. “He was one of those people — anything you needed at the fields, he was always there.”
And after sharing much of his own time with baseball and the community, residents found their own way to honor Tom, who died on April 9, 2011 at the age of 51, after having been diagnosed with lung cancer just three months prior.
Late last month, more than 500 people came out to the Rabinowitz Complex to officially dedicate the 10-, 11- and 12-year-old baseball field as the “Tom Love Memorial Field.”
Tom Love Sr. threw out the first pitch to kick off the beginning of the baseball season. The family was also presented a plaque in Tom’s honor.
Susan said the event to honor and celebrate her husband was surreal.
She said she was especially touched when Tom’s friend and fellow baseball coach Sam Gershenfeld gave a moving speech about her husband, and when 11-year-old resident and player Matt Kempter belted out the National Anthem prior to the game.
Mayor Michael Mignogna, as well as many other local dignitaries, were also on hand to celebrate Tom’s life and help dedicate the field.
Mignogna said he met Tom more than 40 years ago, when their paths crossed while playing basketball in high school.
“Tom will be remembered, not for how he died, but for how he lived. Very simply, Tom Love was one of the good guys,” Mignogna said. “He made the world a better place and he will be missed. His memory will live on and his spirit will remain alive in the joy of kids playing baseball on ‘Tom Love Memorial Field.’”
Bordi, who has sat on the GVAA board for the last eight years and who has served as the league’s president for four years, also has kids the same age as Tom’s.
Their children met playing baseball in the league, giving Bordi the opportunity to get to know the Love family.
“He was a constant figure in the complex. He’s not a screaming coach. He was an easygoing guy who tried to make it as good as he could for the kids,” Bordi said. “He’s the kind of guy fields get named after for who he was in the community.”
The field dedication ceremony was bittersweet for the Love family, but Susan said she and her children felt honored by the outpouring of community support.
“It was so hard to look at the field and he’s not there,” Susan said.
When Tom died last year, the family asked for donations to improve the field.
The GVAA agreed to establish donations in Tom’s name and would use the money to supplement the upgrades the township could make to the field, including changes to the scoreboard, signs and fencing.
The fund continues to live on, Susan said, in the hopes of being able to do something special for the 12-year-old team each year — the last team Tom coached.
For more information on how to donate, visit www.gvaabaseball.com.