This is probably the shittiest way to return to post here, but I had to make some attempt, however inadequate, to memorialize a dear friend that we lost this week.
I knew Tom Gazzola through the National Puzzlers' League, in which he went by the alias of Maso. I always enjoyed seeing him at our annual convention, which he hosted in 2012. He hosted a few editions of his game invention, It Takes Two (formerly Doubles Jeopardy). It quickly became a hit and one of the must-play homemade games of the weekend. His wit and innovation shined through, whether it was the creative ways to get two people to team up to answer trivia questions or the other amusing touches he brought to his presentation, such as making answer values increments of one penny rather than $100. In 2011 in Providence, I was fortunate enough to land on his team for the extravaganza, the suite of interconnected puzzles that is the climax of the convention. We and our other two teammates worked together seamlessly and took home the victory. Participants need both puzzle skills and interpersonal skills to achieve that, and Tom was a great ally on both fronts. Tom was also a teammate at the MIT Mystery Hunt, which we also won this year. We were in the midst of planning the 2016 event, and it will be much poorer without his creativity and enthusiasm.
But it wasn't all just puzzling and gaming with Tom; he was a joy to socialize with as well. He had a calm, quiet demeanor, even while cracking a joke, which he often did. Over the last several days, I've read so many friends' fond memories of interacting with him, whether it was as a relative, puzzler colleague, friend, confidant, and/or student. Quite simply, he made people feel good. I saw him only at the occasional puzzle event and I feel a void due to his passing; I can't imagine the magnitude of the loss for those lucky enough to interact with him daily.
Rest in peace, friend. We won't forget you.
Lastly: For fuck's sake, never, ever, ever drink and drive. Your selfishness might take someone special out of this world.