He’s Carting Away our Hearts
By Abigail Burke & Cole Scott
Some might say he is the cutest guy on campus. He almost became a priest. He lived in Japan and he used to work for the Red Cross. But you may know him from his part-time job working at Tom’s Cart.
At 86, Tom OBryan works four days a week running a food cart, handing out coffee and serving soup and smiles to students who have nothing but kind words to say about him.
“Tom’s a great guy,” said Logan Greco, a junior at Bellarmine. “Every time I come here to get food he always puts a smile on my face and makes everybody’s day better.”
OBryan’s cart is a major hub for many students who have little time to eat but enough time to talk to Tom.
“He’s just super friendly,” said Lauren Deines, a Bellarmine junior. “It’s really nice to come up to him and just visit with him when you’re having a bad day or good day. It’s just really awesome to stop by and have a nice chat with Tom.”
The previously retired OBryan appreciates the students and relationships he has built during his 18 years working at Bellarmine.
“The college kids are, in my opinion, I don’t know a lot about them, but they as far as I’m concerned, they are one great bunch of kids – just fantastic,” OBryan said. “I’ve had no problem in all my years I’ve been here. I’ve had nothing but pleasant experiences.”
Before Bellarmine and his years of working in the food service industry, OBryan visited many places and had varied experiences.
OBryan was born into a family of 12 children in the remote town in Cannelton, Indiana. He lived there only for a short while before his family moved to Louisville and then moved again to Jamestown, New York, for his father’s furniture business.
“I remember that was in 19 – oh my goodness – probably 1942,” he said.
After grade school OBryan decided to join the seminary at St. Joseph in Buffalo, New York. He continued seminary into college however, after moving back with his family to Louisville, OBryan realized that priesthood was not for him. At 21, he joined the Red Cross and did social case work with the military in Tokyo, Japan.
“I was in the Orient for four years, and that’s where I met my wife and so I married her while I was over there, and my wife came back with me,” OBryan said.
OBryan and his wife, Shizuko, moved from Tokyo to Louisville together after four years in Japan and have been married for 57 years. They have four children, four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
He retired from his job as a director of food services at Spalding University in 1998. Later, OBryan figured out retirement was not for him. He worked at Chex’s Café as a manager for about three years before he became a food service employee at Bellarmine.
“I retired in 1998, which is still history for you guys, and didn’t do much of anything for two or three years. Then, I decided that this is crazy not doing anything,” OBryan said.