Obituary

Thomas J. Comer, Jr.
Thomas J. Comer, Jr.

May 6, 1963 - November 12, 2017
Born in Buffalo, New York
Resided in Amherst, New York
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Obituary

Thomas Joseph Comer, Jr., a man whose passion and purpose led him to a life devoted to others, died suddenly Sunday at his home in Amherst. He was 54.
Tom’s generosity, vibrancy, and curiosity were evident upon meeting him. He cared deeply about Catholic education, Buffalo and Western New York, and most of all, his family and friends. All he did—be it raising five children with his wife, Jean Hansen Comer, building a business, giving back to the Buffalo community, or pursuing new challenges and adventures—was done with a joyful energy and steadfast dedication to finding the good in others.

Tom was born in Williamsville on May 6, 1963, and his heart never left Western New York. He followed in the footsteps of his father, Thomas Joseph Comer, Sr., and grandfather, Joseph Patrick Comer, by attending St. Joseph Collegiate Institute (St. Joe’s) as a member of the class of 1981. As an active participant of the St. Joe's community, Tom played on the football team and was editor of the yearbook his senior year. He went on to attend the University of Notre Dame, where he studied chemistry and built enduring relationships that remain an integral part of his and his family’s life.

After receiving his MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, Tom went to work in Chicago at IBM and met his wife, Jean, at Wrigley Field. Tom’s profound sense of empathy then led him on year-long trip around the world. As he wrote at the time, he wanted “to see the different people that comprise our world because we will only come to love world humanity when we fully understand the perspectives of our neighbors.” Over the course of 10 months, Tom crossed the globe with his best friend, Mike Muldowney, witnessing the fall of Berlin Wall, meeting Mother Teresa in Calcutta, and hiking to the base camp of Mount Everest. Upon his return in 1991, Tom and Jean exchanged vows, and they moved to Buffalo after Tom was presented with an opportunity to turn around a local mattress business.

Over the course of the next two decades, Tom became the chief executive officer and owner of Royal Bedding Co. He was well respected in the bedding industry as a visionary, leader, and friend to all. Yet, when asked what he did for a living, he would always humbly reply, “I make mattresses.” Under his leadership, Royal Bedding grew to become Alliance Sleep Products in 2002 with the acquisition of a manufacturing plant in Fayetteville, N.C., and in 2009 Tom expanded the local Buffalo operation. As owner of both facilities and a licensee of the Restonic brand, he transformed what had been a small, local business into a nationally recognized name. Last year, Tom sold his company to a trusted bedding-industry veteran, following his desires to position his company for long-term growth and take care of his people.

A leader in Western New York, Tom supported many institutions in the Buffalo community with his generosity and vision. He wanted to see other businesses flourish as his own had, knowing that shared success would lead to a brighter Buffalo. To further this mission, he joined the Buffalo Renaissance Foundation’s Board of Directors in 1999 and served as president in 2007 and 2008.

Tom and Jean believed in the transformative power of a values-based Catholic education, and together sent their five children to Saint Gregory the Great Catholic School, Nardin Academy, and St. Joe's. They also hoped to change the trajectories of other children’s lives through education. Tom and Jean devoted their charitable leadership and service to St. Joe's, the BISON Children’s Scholarship Fund, and the Diocese of Buffalo Department of Education. Tom was proud of his family’s legacy at St. Joe's, joining the Board of Trustees in 2008 and becoming chairman in 2017. In his final months, Tom was an instrumental member of the search committee for St. Joe’s next president. Tom also served on the board of the BISON Fund, which provides tuition assistance for low-income students in Western New York.

Above all else, Tom’s greatest passion was his family. He was devoted to his parents, Thomas and Eileen, who instilled in him the importance of family, and together with Jean, he raised five children - Aileen, Joe, MK, Tommy, and Sarah - who each personify his selflessness and love of life. His favorite moments were those spent together as a family, whether they were climbing the mountains of Switzerland and South America, enjoying the outdoors in Ellicottville, or simply sitting around the dinner table at home on Sunday nights. Through his daily example, his children learned the values of hard work, adventure, and most importantly, the need to take care of each other.

Tom was a larger than life presence whose leadership will continue to shape the lives of generations to come. His example as a son, husband, father, and friend stands as a model to all who knew him.

Tom was preceded in death by his father, Thomas Joseph Comer, Sr. He is survived by his wife, Jean Hansen Comer; his children, Aileen, Joseph, Mary Kathryn, Thomas, and Sarah; his mother, Eileen (O’Connor) Comer; his sisters, Anne (Michael) Comer O’Neill, Melissa (Edward) Comer Williams, and Catherine (Theo) Comer Helm; his parents-in-law Thomas and Betty Hansen; his brothers- and sisters-in-law in the Hansen family; and many nieces and nephews.

The family will be present to receive friends on Wednesday and Thursday from 4-7 PM at the (Delaware Chapel) AMIGONE FUNERAL HOME, INC., 1132 Delaware Ave., (at West Ferry). A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 17, at St. Joseph University Parish, 3269 Main Street, Buffalo. All are asked to assemble in the church.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that donations be made to the BISON Children’s Scholarship Fund, PO Box 1134, Buffalo, NY, 14205.
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Buffalo News Obituary Version
May 6, 1963 — Nov. 12, 2017

Thomas Joseph Comer Jr., a University of Notre Dame graduate and longtime business executive who was leading the effort to find a new president for his alma mater, St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute, died unexpectedly Sunday at his Amherst home. He was 54.

Born in Williamsville, Mr. Comer followed in the footsteps of his father, Thomas Joseph Comer Sr., and grandfather, Joseph Patrick Comer, by attending St. Joe's. He was a member of the class of 1981, where he played on the football team and was editor of the yearbook his senior year. He went on to attend the University of Notre Dame, where he studied chemistry and graduated in 1985.

After receiving his MBA from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, Mr. Comer went to work for IBM. He met his wife, the former Jean Hansen, at Wrigley Field. He then embarked on a yearlong trip around the world, writing at the time that he wanted “to see the different people that comprise our world, because we will only come to love world humanity when we fully understand the perspectives of our neighbors.” Over the course of 10 months and joined by his best friend, Mike Muldowney, Mr. Comer witnessed the fall of Berlin Wall, met Mother Teresa in Calcutta, and hiked to the base camp of Mount Everest. Upon his return in 1991, he and Jean were married.

Over the course of the next two decades, he became the chief executive officer and owner of Royal Bedding Co. Under his leadership, Royal Bedding grew to become Alliance Sleep Products in 2002 with the acquisition of a manufacturing plant in Fayetteville, N.C. In 2009, he expanded the Buffalo operation. He sold the company last year.

Mr. Comer supported several causes in Western New York, always saying he wanted to see other businesses flourish as his had. To further this mission, he joined the Buffalo Renaissance Foundation’s Board of Directors in 1999 and served as its president in 2007 and 2008.

He and his wife lent their leadership and service to St. Joe's, the BISON Children’s Scholarship Fund, and the Diocese of Buffalo Department of Education. He joined the St. Joe's Board of Trustees in 2008 and became chairman this year. He was an instrumental member of the search committee to find a successor Robert Scott, the longtime school president who is set to retire at the end of the school year. Mr. Comer also served on the board of the BISON Fund, which provides tuition assistance for low-income students in Western New York.

Mr. Comer's favorite moments were those spent with family, whether they were climbing mountains in Switzerland and South America, enjoying the outdoors in Ellicottville, or sitting around the dinner table at home on Sunday nights.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by three daughters, Aileen, Mary Kathryn and Sarah; two sons, Joseph and Thomas; his mother, Eileen; and three sisters, Anne Comer O’Neill, Melissa Comer Williams and Catherine Comer Helm.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Friday in St. Joseph University Parish, 3269 Main St.

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Visitation
Delaware Chapel
1132 Delaware Avenue
Buffalo, NY US 14209
Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Thursday, November 16, 2017
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Service
St. Joseph University Parish
3269 Main Street
Buffalo, NY US 14214
Friday, November 17, 2017
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Charities

Bison Children's Scholarship Fund
PO Box 1134
Buffalo, New York USA 14205