In Memory of Tom Hagopian

ITVT heard last week--just after we learned of the untimely passing of Scott Higgins--that another seminal figure in our industry, Tom Hagopian, had died. Our condolences to his family and friends.

Tom's colleague and friend, Tracey Scheppach, has sent in her memories of him--and if any other readers would like to send in their reminiscences, we would be honored to publish them in the ITVT newsletter and on our Web site. Tracey's memories of Tom are posted below, followed by his official obituary.

 

Tracy Geist (new)

Tom was a special man and a true friend. I had someone tell me this past week that it’s really hard when we lose our pillars in life. That is truly the case. Tom was a pillar for me and losing him is especially hard.  His wise voice and gigantic smile will be with me always. 

Sherry Brennan (new)

I worked briefly with Tom when he was at Cablevision.  I remember him as a really smart guy, collegial in a tough environment, and just wanting to do the right thing to advance the business.  I was sorry when he left, and impressed by his career path after Cablevision.  Very sad to hear of his passing.  

Tracey Scheppach

On Monday we lost a true pioneer, a wise mentor, and a dear friend to many in our industry.

I met Tom in 2003. He was new at Wink/OpenTV and my new boss. We met in Silver Springs, MD, just before a meeting with one of my favorite and toughest clients, Discovery. He wanted to see how strong my relationships were, get to know the client and understand the Wink offering. From that day forward, I knew I could learn so much from Tom.

First, he was great guy. He always talked about his family and how much his two boys, his brother and his sister meant to him. He spoke so highly of Michigan and his time there. But, it was his experience as the first digital ad sales exec for ESPN, head of product management at Cablevision and president at TV Guide that made him uniquely qualified to truly be an advanced TV pioneer. He was always quick to share his experience and selflessly listen to all my crazy ideas. He even believed in a few.

After a downturn in the interactive TV business I reluctantly accepted a position working for a company outside the advanced TV space. I went to Tom to resign from OpenTV and he immediately detected my uncertainty. Within 45 minutes he had talked me out of leaving. A decision that had a huge impact on my career. He was kind, smart and truthful in that conversation and for that I am forever grateful to him.  

Eventually we both left OpenTV, but we always continued to work together. Tom at Acxiom and then DirecTV/AT&T and me at Publicis. He would always tell me what was possible, and together we would dream an even bigger dream for advanced TV.

During a dinner we had about 10 years ago at one of the many trade shows we attended, we had a great conversation with our dear friend, Tracy Geist. We talked about who and what we would each bring to an island where we would create the perfect advanced TV world. It is so fun and gratifying to see so many of his great ideas are now a reality.

On the news his cancer diagnosis, he always remained positive. We shared our hatred of cancer and he was always so supportive of my fundraising efforts.

This summer we grew even closer. I was so fortunate to take his younger son, Paul, on as our charity's summer intern. Tom asked that I put him through the "corporate ringer" and begin to teach him some of the business fundamentals. Paul has grown to be such a special part of our charity, Team Bright Side, and even finished his first triathlon last Sunday, with his dad rooting him on.

Tom, I know many people have similar stories, as you impacted so many. Thank you for being such an amazing mentor, leader and dear friend. You will be missed and I will be sure to keep an eye on Paul. Forever grateful for your love. 

 

Obituary

Thomas L. Hagopian, 59, of Darien, Connecticut died peacefully at home on Monday, August 26, following a courageous battle against pancreatic cancer. A proud graduate of the University of Michigan and the Columbia University Business School, Tom was a pioneer and visionary in the digital media sector, starting with his conception and launch of the first major sports website, espn.com, and continuing into digital marketing and interactive TV with DirectTV and AT&T. Tom was proudest, however, to have had the opportunity to mentor and inspire others throughout his career. Tom was a lifetime sports fan, unbeatable trivia master and sportsman. He was a particularly keen and accomplished golfer and member of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews. Tom is predeceased by his parents, Louis and Joanne Hagopian and survived by his beloved sons Louis and Paul, his wife Anne Tennant, his sister Susan Goddard, his brother Matthew, his Aunt Mary James and his many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends who loved him dearly. Services will be held at St Aloysius Roman Catholic Church in New Canaan at 10:00 on September 29. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made by check to "In Memory of Tom Hagopian Columbia Palliative Care Program" and mailed to Takeisha Hall-Ruff at Columbia University Medical Center, 516 West 168th Street, New York, NY 10032; or via http://giving.cumc.columbia.edu/ (please enter "Palliative Care Program" in the special instructions/comments field)