Thomas J. Corritore
July 11, 1940 – November 11, 2021
CELEBRATION OF LIFE: Saturday, November 27th from 3pm to 6pm with MEMORIAL SERVICE at 5pm, all at West Center Chapel. Memorials are suggested to the Gale Sayers Memorial Fund at Omaha Central High School, any animal rescue organization or shelter, or the charity of your choice.
Thomas J. Corritore, aka Thom or Tommy Joe, was a proud native son of Omaha, Nebraska, spending his formative years around 22nd and Pierce Street, which was populated by many Italian families, along with many other nationalities. He liked them all.
He had a younger brother, Joe, of whom he was fiercely protective. Typical kids, they grew up loving to play cowboys, influenced by their idols, Bob Steele, Gene Autry, Roy Rodgers, and many more. One of the unique talents of Thom was his memory. He could remember everything about a person, a place, an event, you name it. And he never lost that gift in all his 81 years.
He made friends easily and he nurtured all those friendships. Unlike some, Thom never let them slip too far away before he brought them back into his life. He loved them all, young, old, rich, poor, it made no difference. Thom and his parents and brother lived with his grandparents whom he adored. His father, Louis, was a proud lifer at Union Pacific; his mother, Lucille, was an accompanist for her niece’s dance studio. Thom soaked up new things like a sponge. He loved horses, so he got a horse and loved to ride. Thom loved pro wrestling, so his grandfather took him to see the shows. Of course, he got to know the promoters and all the wrestlers. Thom loved sports, so he played them all. He talked Mr. Rotella into sponsoring a baseball team he was putting together in grade school and got the team uniforms. If Thom couldn’t play, he would be the team manager. He lettered in wrestling in high school at Central, graduating in 1957.
When Thom went to Omaha University, he took sports classes to learn the finer points of basketball and football and baseball. If he couldn’t play – being a little too short for team sports, then he wanted to broadcast the games. Thom was in and out of college, working in retail clothing (very proud of being at Nebraska Clothing Co; traveling around Nebraska and Iowa for many years for Brown and Williamson and R.J. Reynolds, calling on grocers and pharmacists (he only smoked a pipe); then selling light bulbs (only he could make that fun), and then becoming a food purveyor, making so many friends in the restaurant industry. He wanted to open a barbecue restaurant and practiced smoking meats, but broadcasting still beckoned. Thom was afraid he had entered that arena too late, but he managed to carve out a 40-year career in radio, TV and cable, including working overnights writing news, driving around issuing traffic reports, and running a religious radio station in Council Bluffs, Iowa, all the while holding down “day jobs.” He became one of Omaha’s first baristas, which led to him becoming a sales associate and trainer for Sears. In those careers, Thom had the opportunity to meet many, many people and make many new friends.
He was an altar boy who usually lived up to those standards. Thom was loquacious, which didn’t always serve him well in school, but it did in life beyond school. A natural born salesman, he never met a stranger. Thom could make friends quickly and so he did. He used his rich, easy-to-listen-to voice on the radio, first hosting jazz shows, a trivia show (“Hollywood, Radio and the Tube”), then calling sports. Thom started with UNO Maverick football alongside legend Joe Patrick. He broadcast Creighton U’s baseball games for five years, then Nebraska baseball games for another five, then back to Creighton for some more. His biggest thrill was broadcasting the College World Series games that Creighton was in, right alongside national broadcasters like Greg Gumble.
Then he turned his attention to high school sports, becoming the voice of Millard Schools football for 15 years, right up to 2020, through his company Broadcast Sports. Thom broadcast high school basketball – boys and girls, and high school baseball tournament games. He was a pioneer of regular school’s sports broadcasts, mentoring many future broadcasters along the way. He aired Legion Baseball playoff games from South Dakota. All along the way, he met ADs, coaches, players, parents and sponsors. Most of them became friends. Some players went on to become professional players and coaches. Thom kept those ties open. Social media was his friend. He found he could keep in even better touch with people, typing away with his hunt-and-peck method.
You would think that would be enough, but he also had a love of music, jazz in particular. Thom taught himself to play the drums and he played by ear, not being able to read music. His career as a jazz drummer (and occasionally drummer of other genres) spanned several decades. He loved listening to and playing jazz. Thom knew all the musicians in town and traveled to places like San Francisco, California, and New Orleans, Louisiana, to hear the big names like Buddy Rich. He struck up a conversation with a couple of musicians walking down the street in the Latin Quarter in Paris and discovered mutual friends.
Ironically, it was throat cancer that silenced his broadcast voice and rendered him unable to eat. He battled the cancer caused by the HPV virus that now has a vaccine, for nearly three years, enduring radiation, chemo, surgery, immunotherapy, and finally, metastasis to his lung. It was a painful journey, but he never, ever gave up.
Thom never considered himself a big success, always regretting that he didn’t land that “big, high-paying job” somewhere. But he was a successful man, rich in experiences and friendships and the freedom to express himself in ways he loved. Thom was also a successful husband, just ask his wife, Lorraine. They were together 39 years, 15 of them as husband and wife, all of them joined at the hip. If those things are a measure of a successful man, then Thom rose to the top of his game.
Thom is survived by his wife, Lorraine Boyd; his close cousin, Celianne Procopio LaRosa; nephews: Michael, Louis and Thomas; many cousins; a houseful of cats and a dog. He was preceded in death by his parents and brother, and his beloved dog, Teddy.