Well-loved and successful, Hackettstown’s Tom Kitchen, who passed away from cancer last October, is being honored with the 1st Annual Tom Kitchen Scholarship Fund 5K Walk/Run event on July 26.

This first annual Tom Kitchen Scholarship Fund 5K Walk/Run event is being held July 26, 2014 at 10 am at Field of Dreams in Independence Township and registration is from 8:30 – 9:30 am.

“We’re hoping to have people register by July,” said Connie Kruse, public relations director for the event.

DAD[1]     This way, sponsors can be listed on the back of the t-shirts being made, she said, adding that they will, however, take walk-ins the day of the event.

Tom Kitchen is remembered as a great guy and a generous individual who worked hard and donated his time and energy to the community often. The Hackettstown High School Girl’s Softball Field is now named after him, and a dedication ceremony was held in May of this year.

Hackettstown High School Athletic Director Bobby Grauso spoke at this dedication and noted that, “he made a countless number of contributions to our school district, athletic programs and the entire Hackettstown community.”

Grauso said Kitchen spent many, many hours “working with players, especially pitchers and catchers in the winter months, all to make each player better and all for no compensation. Tom had a positive effect on the many players from not only Hackettstown, but throughout Warren County.”

Grauso said, “On May 9th 2014, the Hackettstown High School Varsity Softball field was dedicated and will now and forever more be called the Thomas R. Kitchen Jr. Field!”

Kitchen also had a successful professional life, as he ran the Hackettstown Department of Public Works for many years and later earned the position of Warren County Road Supervisor in 2008.

Kitchen was also Chief of the Hackettstown Fire Department (Hook and Ladder Co.) in the 1990s, and served as a member for years as well.

In addition to this, he offered so much of his time and energy toward the community.

In the early 1990s, he started the travelling girls softball teams for the 7th and 8th graders. These “fast pitch” teams compete against other teams in Warren County, and also, about 25 years ago, he was the co-founder of the Tiger Athletics Association, through the Hackettstown Recreation Commission. It includes cheerleading and football and serves children 8-13 years old.

“And that’s still going – really going strong,” said Kruse, who worked for seven years at the high school concession stand that Kitchen was instrumental in helping to make a reality.

Kitchen, who also coached many youth sporting programs and helped establish the comprehensive Orange and Black Booster Club for all sport teams, is remembered as a caring individual who was well-loved by the community.

He was born and raised in Hackettstown, was a graduate of Hackettstown High School, was a three-sport letter winner in football, wrestling and track, and served his country in Vietnam in the US Navy.

Tom’s daughter Allison, a surgical technician at Emmaus Surgical Center in the Hackettstown area, created posters for the upcoming July 26 event to educate and raise awareness about bile duct cancer, the type of cancer Tom passed away from.

Tom’s wife of 36 years, Ellen, spoke in an interview late last month and noted that “there needs to be more support systems for that specific cancer.”

This type of cancer is rare, and individuals need emotional support, she added.

Ellen also noted that Tom “did a lot for people,” and was great at getting things donated to the athletic programs. “He loved the kids,” she said, and noted that he also served as a security guard at high school events as well.

Grauso said, “he treated people with respect and had a presence that the whole student body respected.”

The Tom Kitchen Scholarship Fund will be awarded to a high school student, an athlete, who applies for the scholarship and is in need.

To print out the entry form for the event, visit Hackettstown High School Homepage http://www.hackettstown.org/Domain/11 and click on Athletics, and then scroll down the page a bit and click on the bold blue type which reads Tom Kitchen Scholarship Fund 5K Walk/Run. By clicking this link, an entry form will appear and it can printed out and then sent in with payment of $25 by July 1 (same-day registration at the event is $30).

Information on where to mail the check and who to make it out to is provided on the form.

There will also be “door prizes” at the event. There will be an autographed football from the 2013 Green Bay Packers, a few New York Yankees tickets and an autographed poster from the New York Jets.

For more information, email trkitchenscholarship@yahoo.com or see Tom Kitchen Memorial Fund on Facebook.

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Ejvind Boccolini

Ejvind Boccolini graduated with a BA in Journalism from Rutgers University in 1994 and has over 10 years of experience in the field, covering local government news, and personality features for northern and central New Jersey newspapers. Boccolini is a reporter for MJ Media, of Flanders, and news items can be sent to him at ejvind08@yahoo.com or on Facebook.