“Our big brother, Tom Nicotera, took his last breath on April 19, 2021. I had been honoring his wishes by keeping his brave, sad and lonely battle with Covid off of social media. It was a wretched few weeks for all of us who love him and had hoped and prayed for his recovery.
“Tom was a wonderful father, brother, son, uncle, friend and a renowned, multiple award-winning avid car enthusiast and subject expert. We are heartbroken and will deeply miss our Tommy.”
I posted that announcement on Twitter on the night he passed, shortly after we made the excruciating decision to disconnect his ventilator. My post was accompanied by a picture of Tom standing next to one of his prized classic Oldsmobiles. The next morning, I woke up to hundreds of notifications. My post had gained quick traction overnight and, as of this writing, has garnered more than 5,000 likes, 602 retweets and more than 1,000 comments of condolence.
When he died a few years ago, one of our dad’s last comments was to tell Tom that he was now the leader of our family. Tom took that responsibility seriously and has since hosted our extended family for most holiday dinners. He was a good cook and especially adept at roasting a yummy turkey, baking a savory ham and mashing heaps of potatoes.
Tommy set a lovely, coordinated table, complete with fresh flowers. He was a stickler for details, took great care of his treasured house plants and managed a tidy household.
My brother was strong-willed and reserved, yet open-hearted, a fun and thoughtful man who loved to advise or assist most anyone who asked. Many recipients of Tom’s largesse joined the prayer chain that grew massive as word spread of his battle versus Covid-19.
Tom also co-founded and partnered a successful, long-time auto transmission business in South Buffalo. And his love of all-things automobile-related was evident at an early age.
His prize-winning 1956 dark green Olds Super 88 first sat in our driveway in 1971. Tom doted on that classic beauty for the rest of his life, earning countless accolades and awards anytime he showed it.
Tommy always owned, maintained and showed fabulous cars through the years. One of his former favorites being a rare, white 1969 Hurst-Olds. He was a popular, local leader among the WNY Car Cruise family. They are grieving with us.
For decades, a special booth, time and waitress was reserved for Tom at his favorite restaurant, Ilio DiPaolo’s. They often name a special after him. “Nicotera Italian Chicken” is surely making Tom salivate from heaven.
Tom was a proud, decisive man. We aren’t exactly sure why, but despite our pleas, he decided to fight Covid on his own for several days before things became dire and he was rushed to the hospital.
Perhaps his dangerously low oxygen level affected his reasoning. But he was already critically ill, with a small chance of recovery, when he arrived in the ER. Tom fought hard, but Covid prevailed.
The hole in our hearts will undoubtedly take a long time to heal. We pray our Tommy revs, vrooms and then ultimately idles in eternal peace.