Many have asked about making donations in memory of Tom. This post has been updated on Dec 3, 2021 with memorial information at the bottom.
We are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Prof. Thomas J. Kwak on November 19, 2021 due to a non-COVID related cardio-pulmonary event while visiting his hometown of Momence, IL.
Tom was a fisheries biologist and leader of the U.S. Geological Survey’s NC Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. He was also an active member in the American Fisheries Society and former president of its southern division. Tom received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Illinois and doctorate from the University of Minnesota. He joined the faculty at NC State in 1999.
Tom was an influential instructor, with most of his previous students going on to pursue careers in fisheries and research. He led several foundational courses, including Fisheries Techniques and Management recently featured in the news, that inspired generations of fisheries biologists.
Along with being a highly-respected expert, Tom was a friendly and warm force for good. He was a supportive and caring supervisor committed to the personal and professional growth of each of his students. Tom championed creating a more inclusive environment in fisheries and was an active voice for change in every professional realm. He was always armed with his cellphone camera, infectious laugh, kindness, and booming pride of his students, colleagues, and community.
Tom was an active outdoorsman and avid beekeeper. He recently made the news for rescuing a hive of bees from RDU airport, a testament to his passion for nature.
“We are deeply saddened to hear of the sudden passing of Tom Kwak, a highly-respected and beloved member of the CALS and Applied Ecology community,” says Dean Richard Linton. “Tom was passionate about his work and was a model for all on how to work with others to conduct collaborative research. His presence will be sorely missed, and our thoughts are with his family and loved ones.”
He is survived by his wife, Danielle Pender and his two children, Jacob and Alexandra Kwak, and their loving dog Dusty.
There will be a memorial service held in Raleigh, NC at a future date in addition to the service that was held in Momence, Illinois on November 22nd.
Tom was treasured by all who knew him, and we are all better for knowing him.
- NC 529 Plan Education Fund accounts for the Kwak children, Jacob and Alex, have been created in the College Foundation of North Carolina by Danielle. Please email Carrie at firstname.lastname@example.org for account information.
- Other options include making a donation to American Rivers at https://www.americanrivers.org/
- And the Shriners Hospital for Children at https://lovetotherescue.org/