Dr. Tom Kazo Online Memorial

Imagine a great, stone statue representing all the heroes of the world. Not only the great heroes that we have seen throughout time, but also the personal heroes; people who make a difference in a large or small way for those others lucky enough to be close to them. Dr. Tom was a great man; one of the rare people who was not only a pioneer to the world, but also both hero and mentor to everyone who was fortunate enough to have him in their life. This is Dr. Tom's part of the great statue. Here, you can leave your thoughts, inscribed on the stone forever, as your personal dedication to him. Whether you have many words, or only a few, you may leave them here forever for Dr. Tom. You do not have to worry about being a "good writer," or about saying everything you want to say all at once. You may return at any time and add another entry of any length. Our feelings and memories of Dr. Tom are what's important, and this online memorial page is here to collect them, not to restrict your words.

Instructions for leaving your own inscription are at the bottom of the page, or click here to be taken to them.

Dr. Thomas Kazo, Eth., Ph.D.
September 21, 1946 - May 8, 2006

This is the poem that our Founder, Dr. Tom Kazo, lived by.
He would recite it from heart to anyone who asked him how they should live their lives.
Wildlife Research Team will continue on in his memory.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream -- and not make dreams your master;
If you can think -- and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings -- nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And which is more; you'll be a Man, my son!

--Rudyard Kipling


I don't know if I managed when I last spoke to you, but I tried to tell you how much of an inspiration you have always been to me. I tried, but words aren't really enough to explain it. You have always been my example to follow, both in the peaceful times and when I needed to keep going and keep struggling against the odds. I have always loved you and always been happy and proud to have you in my life. I am immensely grateful for everything you taught me, even the lessons which aren't so easy to define...like the strength I picked up just by being around you. You have defined my standards for myself and I am a better person because of that. You are, and will always be, my hero.

-- Christianna Cannon, inscribed May 26, 2006


Tom, my best friend, husband, soulmate, love of my life, co-paddler, co-founder, co-writer, fellow artist, best teacher, best student, I miss you every second of every day.
Yet, I know it was always your mission, your goal, to give me enough confidence in myself to know that I can, I must go on without your physical presence. You said you were depending on me to run our Wildlife Research Team.
I can feel you right there with me every time I pick up a canoe paddle. You had such faith in me long before I did.
I remember the happiness in your voice as I gained sureness in handling a canoe. I can hear you saying, "it's just like you're walking in a screen door!" soon after we began venturing forth together in that first Wildlife Research Team canoe.
That canoe, "Do-er" had a lot in common with you, darling. Both of you had been battered by storms and were badly scarred, but still with years of useful life ahead, once a few repairs had been made. All you wanted was another chance. And you were so good about giving others that same chance to redeem themselves.
You knew.
You were an artist with fiberglass, among other mediums! So you healed that canoe, and that canoe healed you. And me. I was something of a mess, indeed, when you came back into my life with a death sentence over your head.
So we healed each other, too, my love.
Thank you for being the first to tell me I was strong.

I really miss your jokes and your unique and very off the wall humor, your zany take on life, your poetically goofy yet romantic way with words. I miss the development of our own special secret language. You were always so relieved when I knew exactly what you were trying to say when you couldn't remember the exact words.
What I really lament is the loss to humanity of that vast and eclectic store of knowledge stored up in your brain.
I am so sad for the dogs who love you and miss you, and wonder if they sense where their best pal went? You were so graceful, so fluid, so loose. You never, ever froze up or were stuck for an answer or a solution. That was part of your secret for your dog training success. You'd let a mean dog pretty much bite you to let him know that there was someone who wouldn't back down. You were great at calling bluffs. Not that you were ever, ever foolish with biting dogs! You knew what you were doing at all times. No dog could surprise you: you were in his head immediately and could see yourself through his eyes. And the dogs were always so relieved to see you! They knew! Even over the phone, the first time you spoke with a frazzled owner, you were usually able to solve the problem. Training dogs never got old for you. You loved finding answers. You relished every challenge, the harder the better.
I miss the look on your face at 4 a.m., when the normal world was asleep, and everything was possible. The whole world was yours then. I miss that gleam in your eye as we were driving with the canoes to get on the water before the sun came up. You lived for every sunrise, and every sunset, and each time the sun came up, it was for you, a sign you were still here to make the best of every day, even if you'd barely slept. You were a 24-hour-a-day person. You taught me to expect a whole lot more out of myself.
I miss how you'd come up behind me and kiss the top of my shoulder.
I miss what a bad little kid you were, particularly when it came to ice cream, cookies, pie, donuts, and cakes! I still joke that my name being so close to a favorite treat was why you loved me! I am less than pleased with the twenty pounds I gained by simply hanging out with you, however.
What I don't miss is the pain on your face brought on by your diabetic foot ulcers, your peripheral neuropathy, the cancer's ravages. How did you do it, honey?
No more suffering, Tom. No more crazy cramps in the middle of the night. No wonder you didn't like to sleep.
You managed to hang onto all of your toes no matter how many infected bones the good podiatrists at the VA Hospital removed from your besieged feet. You and Pain were old friends, you told me, very matter-of-fact. Well, that's one old friend you can drop off your A-list now!
I am glad I was strong enough to keep my promise to you, that you'd be here at home with me, safe in our bed, not in that scary VA, when death finally came to claim you.
That you always felt safe with me, and were on your best behavior with me, through these 28-plus years, was the greatest compliment anyone has ever given me. That alone gave me confidence and strength. You were the fiercest of fighters, of soldiers, but never a foolish one. You always weighed out the options, and were able to discern the risk and reward ratio better than anyone.
I still say, "Men are from Mars, women are from Venus, and Tom is from some planet nobody has ever heard of." Yes, indeed, that is the only acceptable explanation. How else can you explain so many contradictions within one human being? Summed up by Scary but Silly? A man trained to kill by the military, but who little children and puppies approached with delight? People who comment on how much you loved to talk, may or may not be aware of how much they talked to you, often confessing much more than they intended. You made them feel safe, that no confession was too outrageous or out of line. You truly liked women, and it was astonishing how many of us would confess our menstrual problems to you!
You especially liked women who were a little more "spunky" which was a favorite word of yours. That special spark is what you looked for. Glad you helped me to find and develop mine, like nobody else had ever been able to do.
You also loved people, canine and human, who had, as you called it, "Pizzazz!"
And I use the word, Love, as you would have me use it. A sacred word, that you never used lightly. Well, thanks to my precious daughter, I have the chance to cathartically write these words to you. Thank you, Tom, for being such a good friend and mentor to my daughters. Thank you for understanding that they came first in my daily round, and that I had to raise them in a safer place, which meant long weeks without you and me spending time together physically. Thank you for going to their schools to talk about life in the wilderness and to teach their classmates how to respect nature. Thank you for being a friend to their friends.
Thank you for all the phone calls, to keep us bonded. In our fifteen and a half years together, I doubt if there were five days where we didn't talk on the phone.
When Christianna told me about her memorial to you on our WRT webpage, my mind shut down. It was just after you departed from this plane of existence. Obviously, I cannot possibly sum up our life together, my love for you, in a few perfect words carved in marble. The words for that don't even exist. So, babe, even though you didn't understand or like computers, you've got to admit that this is a superb way to share our special love with the love-starved world. Maybe we can still give hope to the hopeless, living by example.
Well, beloved husband, please give Trep a hug for me. I can still remember the feel of the top of his head as I was painting his portrait all those years ago. That was our first co-birthday, when I gave you that painting, and I recall the tear trickling down your cheek that night. I know you held his memory in your heart, along with a lot of other dogs with "pizzazz" all of these years.
Remember how I told you that you'd better go to Heaven, because none of your dogs would go to Hell, despite your whole Hell On Paws Kennel thing? I am sure that for someone like you, it is only Heaven if your dogs are there with you. Well, we have no way of knowing, of proving. Take it on faith until our days here are over.
I still cannot believe that your days here are over. But I know I will see you again someday. I know that you accepted God into your heart, that you were able to feel His presence guiding you in many terrifying experiences, that He guided you through each of them. I wonder how many people knew how fiercely private you actually were about such soul-issues?
Guess this is a mighty large statue, with enough room for all of this, but that would be consistent, wouldn't it, big guy? There's plenty of room on just one of your statue's size 17 feet for this inscription and plenty of others.
So, for now, I will focus on another project, but know that you are right there with me, watching me from our own little star you told me about.
Hope things are going well as you reorganize Heaven!

Love you for eternity, beloved husband,
your "Donut"
-- inscribed August 27, 2006


My name is Toby, I adopted a shy little puppy for my son from Pets In Distress one day. I brought this puppy home to my ten year old dog that was queen of the house. Well, it didn't work out for the little pup; the older one kept attacking her. I loved them both and was not about to part with either one. I was desperate, and that's when I met Dr. Tom. PID referred him to help in the situation.

So began the bond between Sheyna, Joseph and Dr. Tom and I. Dr. Tom came to our home assessed the two dogs and began working with Joseph and his puppy. Sheyna learned a lot, but Shadow the queen of the house wouldn't give up her reign. Dr. Tom's diagnosis was that Shadow was like an elderly woman that just had trouble tolerating an active young child. Sheyna just wasn't ready for assertiveness training, but he did get the obedience training in. So, training lead to a canoe ride for my son's birthday and trying to get involved with the Wildlife Research Team. He gave my son a skeleton of a turtle and asked him to put the many pieces together. We attended a tribute to him at Matheson Hammock, and the picture was displayed. He gave children a common thread with nature and taught them respect for it. I admired and respected him, and will miss his presence in this world. There are not enough people like him. There are not enough adults that encourage children that have an more of an interest in nature than sports. Dr. Tom loved life and was always proud to say it. He always told me that you have to love what you do.

I found out that Dr. Tom had died after his memorial, so I am taking the opportunity to express my thoughts here. Donna, my son Joseph and I met you at the tribute. I am very sorry for your loss and the suffering that you both endured. The Wildlife Research Team is an incredible legacy and I am sure that his hand is there to guide all of the projects and great work that you do. If there is any way that I can help, please let me know. I work with Elena at PID too.

Thank you for the opportunity to write this. The strength of Dr. Tom's spirit is in every animal, person and waterway he has touched.
Sincerely, Toby Lopez
-- inscribed March 4, 2007


You came into my life at the worse moment a mother could ever imagine. You and Trep were my last hope at finding my son, Jeremy Coots, alive or dead. What you gave me in the end wasn't my son, ironically, it was so much more. If it wasn't for you Tom Kazo, I wouldn't be here today. If it wasn't for your meticulous and exhausting search I would not have been able to "accept" the inevitable. I would not have been able to go on with my life let alone deliver my daughter, Amanda, a few short weeks later. You gave me back my life, not what I wanted to hear, but what I needed to know. Yes, I had to learn how to live with the loss of my son, but without you, Dr. Tom, there would be nothing here but a blank page. My only regret is in not trying harder to find you all these years so I could tell you personally; "Thank You for giving me the truth that I would never had known without your efforts". I am thankful for your lovely wife, Donna, as she has given me the next best thing-- this memorial page to honor you and a way to give you a message that is many years late, but heartfelt none the same... Thank you for giving me my life back!
--Melodye Hathaway, inscribed June 27, 2012


How to add your inscription: Please send an email to Paddle4Research at Yahoo .com and include the following:

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