Bidding a sad farewell to a friend and legend
It was a sad day on June 22, when word came from the Milwaukee School of Engineering that Tom Wanke, CFPE, director of the Fluid Power Industrial Consortium and Industry Relations, had passed away unexpectedly the day before.
As a young editor at the beginning of my career, I was glad to count Tom Wanke as a mentor who helped teach me about fluid power. And as my career continued over the years, I was blessed to work directly with him on many occasions through our events and editorial coverage. Tom was probably one of the most passionate teachers of fluid power systems I’ve ever met and he became a great friend to me over the years. I will truly miss his friendship.
I first met him when I attended a week-long basic hydraulics course at MSOE, where he made a cameo in the classroom. But more importantly, I had the pleasure of working with him many times over the years in conjunction with our Fluid Power Technology Conference in particular, as he helped us coordinate several of these events. He also served as a favorite presenter throughout the years.
This partnership meant frequent phone calls, meetings, and occasional dinners and drinks at industry events. I was delighted to finally meet his wife Ann in February at the NFPA Annual Meeting. Because if there was one thing Tom loved more than fluid power, it was his family.
I don’t think I’ve met another person as passionate about this industry as Tom; he was integral in shaping many young engineering minds throughout his 50-year career at MSOE, beginning as a technician in the university’s Fluid Power Institute through to his final days as the director of the FPIC, which he helped to establish in 2016.
Tom was an expert in hydraulic component and system design reviews, development, and evaluation; field troubleshooting and failure analysis; and fluids, filtration, and contamination control in hydraulic systems. The number of awards and recognitions he received over the years are too many to list, but suffice to say, they were all well-deserved. His knowledge and passion for the industry will likely not be surpassed in my lifetime.
So we bid farewell to one of our industry stalwarts. Thank you, Tom, for your friendship and generosity over the years in teaching so many of us the ins and outs of this technology and more importantly, why we love this industry — people such as yourself make it great.
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