Thomas Jude "Tod" Gombar, 70, of Ruffs Dale, passed away peacefully Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022, at his home, surrounded by his family and closest friends. Tod sought mindfulness and love throughout his 10-year battle with stage 4 metastatic cancer. He was born Aug. 10, 1952, in Throop, Pa., the oldest child of the late Thomas A. and Amelia "Mim" Nazinskas Gombar. He graduated in 1974 from Slippery Rock University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in English with a minor in art. Mentorship from the late artist Michael Changnon inspired his soul's mission-documenting life through artistic endeavors.
He began his professional career in 1972 as a photojournalist on staff at his university. From 1976 to 1998, he rose through the ranks at the Greensburg Tribune-Review, from darkroom technician to staff photographer to chief photographer, culminating his career there as director of photography. Among his many assignments, he captured local heroes, including Fred Rogers of "Mister Rogers" fame, and various other personalities. His work as a photojournalist was published in various national and international magazines and periodicals. During his career, he was a frequent contributor to Newsweek, Der Stern and the Associated Press. His image "The Crash of USAir 427" was featured as a cover and gatefold for Newsweek magazine in 1994.
Tod was a devoted artist in every medium. He treasured guitar gigs and the spoken philosophy of the late John Lennon. As a self-proclaimed hippie, Tod wailed funk on his Fender Telecaster. His musical passion also connected him with novice guitar players seeking instructional guitar videos. Tod's true love was capturing slices of life and people engaged in daily activities. He launched his own business, Cyberpix Media Services, in 1999. In 2012, an exhibition for his Digital Image Construct Collection was held in his honor at the Westmoreland Community College Art Gallery. Most recently, he led the Laurel Highlands Photography Group, which encouraged artists to explore the outdoors through the camera lens.
Becoming a father was his life's truest calling. Together he grew alongside his daughter on backcountry roads to the Quemahoning Reservoir. He was the initiator of tone-deaf car singalongs and always assumed the soprano lead. He loved from a gentle belief that anything could be accomplished if you tried. There were few life events Tod was not photographing from the front row in spite of his daughter's adolescent blushing. When times were tough, Tod never faltered to lighten the mood. He came prepared with novelty teeth and a tucked-lip smile. Tod was the entrusted speed dial call for each how-to question and instinctively spoke the dialect of each stuffed animal. Tod will be remembered in our hearts as a reincarnated bear who delighted in nuts and berries; although his version of a balanced diet looked like balancing an ice cream carton on his belly. His daughter will hug him tight as his soul continues to chase purple skies and waterfalls.
He is survived by his daughter, Taylor Leigh Gombar, of Denver, Colo.; his sister, Judy A. (Edward) Richer, of Moon, Pa.; and niece, Linah Richer-Guimaraes (Thiago), of Porto, Portugal.
Relatives and friends are invited to celebrate the life of Thomas at his funeral Mass to be held at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Blessed Sacrament Cathedral, 300 N. Main St., Greensburg, Thomas' family has entrusted his care to the CLEMENT L. PANTALONE FUNERAL HOME INC., 409 W. Pittsburgh St., Greensburg, PA 15601, 724-837-0020.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Our Clubhouse Cancer Support Group. For online condolences / directions, visit us at pantalone.com. Natale N. Pantalone, supervisor.