Tom Grasso was a geologist and palæontologist with a passion for canals. His research and publications led him to become a well-recognized and respected student of the inland waterways and canals not only of his local New York State canals but also those of Europe. He led successful international canal tours to UK, France, Germany and Belgium, producing comprehensive and well-illustrated guidebooks for each of them.Tom organised two highly successful World Canals Conferences to Rochester, New York in 2000 and 2010.
He received several awards and honours: in 2003, the Mayor of Villeneuve-sur-Lot, in the south of France, presented Tom the city’s Medal of Honour; in 2012 Monroe County named and dedicated a new park lodge in his honour, the Thomas X. Grasso Erie Canal Lodge; and in 2016, the Landmark Society of Western New York bestowed on Tom their highest award, the Special Achievement Award. He will be missed by all his former colleagues and friends who remember him as a mentor, fun guy and patron saint of canals. The canal family he built around himself will miss his expertise, humour, love, passion and joie de vivre.
He had recently finished co-authoring a book about the Erie Canal and had been looking forward to attending the WCC in Leipzig on May 30-June 3, but at the very last minute his health made that a dream impossible to fulfil. We missed him at Leipzig and we will miss him in the future.
The thoughts of IWI’s Council and the many members who knew Tom are with Carola, Tom’s family and many friends.