September 3, 1946 - October 9, 1996
Dr. Thomas Lee Veenendall...a teacher, writer, editor, a leader ... a man, and to many who knew him, an enigma. With his passing in 1996, many people will still think of him. There are probably as many views and opinions about Tom Veenendall as there are people who knew him. I suspect few knew him well.
The twirling world knew Tom as a past President of the USTA and the Editor of USTA publications. Those were his most recent titles, but the official titles tell us little of the man. Yes, he was a leader. He guided the USTA for over 20 years. His longevity says something about his talents in that position, as well as his tenacity.
USTA applauds his unconditional support for the development of USTA's Competitive/Achievement System. Those who use this system today can appreciate Tom's efforts to teach twirlers and coaches an important dictum...to always strive for excellence and, to be rewarded for the effort. Tom was always the first to applaud excellence. His praise came from an intelligent frame of reference and made one want to excel.
In convention seminars and in everyday contact, he taught twirling professionals how to communicate effectively, how to listen actively and how to be heard. He showed us the wonder of non-verbal communication. Mostly, Tom taught me to laugh at the idiosyncrasies and foibles of the human animal. His laughter and sense of humor stays with us still.
Baton Twirling lost a great friend the day Tom Veenendall died. In reading the chronology of Tom's contributions to the U.S. Twirling Association, one is readily impressed with his commitment to the sport. For those of us who knew him, his dedication, enthusiasm and humor will always remain with us. If you listen carefully, as he taught us, you will still hear him on the sidelines ... applauding, and yes, probably laughing, too.