BRECKENRIDGE " John Guidry received the worst call of his life this week.
"She said, 'This is the Summit County Coroner' ... And I just knew. How could I not know? God, I wish that call had never come," he said, choking back emotion.
His son, Thomas Guidry, whom family, friends and co-workers all describe as incredibly giving, always looking on the bright side and having an amazing ability to make anyone laugh, died of acute heart failure after being assaulted at a Breckenridge bar Monday. For those who knew him, the new year started with grief as they try to cope with the terrible loss of the man they loved dearly.
"He was a marvelous, marvelous son," said John Guidry, of St. Louis, Mo.
Tom Guidry, 35, moved to Breckenridge a couple years ago for the second time, and he worked at the Grand Timber Lodge as an outbound sales agent. Wednesday afternoon, a group counseling session was held at his work to help co-workers, who are planning a community memorial service at Father Dyer United Methodist Church.
"The main thing our office will miss is his laughter," said Byron White, a co-worker and friend. "He was always able to bring the stress level down."
Another friend, Kashia Haupt, said: "I learned so much from him. He was the most loving, kind person." He had the ability to turn her mood around and always knew the right thing to say, she added.
Tom Guidry moved to Colorado for the skiing, snowboarding and snow. He started skiing when he was 10 years old, and two weeks later he was competing in slalom and loving it, his dad said.
"He was determined to make his life in Colorado," John Guidry said. "Tom was where he wanted to be."
Still, he was close to his family, and through his father's business ventures and philanthropic missions, he learned the importance of helping others and that you could do anything you wanted. He is the youngest of three boys, with one brother working as a criminal defense lawyer in Orlando, John Patrick Guidry, and another, Gregory Guidry, working with the family businesses in St. Louis.
Before returning to the mountains this last time, Tom Guidry moved back to his hometown for a couple years. His mom, Sabina Mainieri Guidry, was diagnosed with cancer and he wanted to be by her during that hard time, his dad said. This March, the cancer will have been in remission for four years.
While home, he helped his father with rounds of deliveries. At night, they would pick up bread and pastries after stores closed and take them to the city shelters, rehabilitation centers and other places in need.
"Tom was proud of the fact that we did that," his dad said, trailing off. "He was so damn good. It's terrible."
Tom Guidry grew up playing hockey and his high school won the state championship. From there, he went on to St. Louis University and then moved to St. Cloud, Minn., to play hockey, his dad said.
"He would play his heart out. ... The coach used to say, 'If you give 110 percent the way he does, we'd always be champions,'" his dad said. "You could always count on him. He would never go halfway. He was a great team player."
And he was that way in life. He would do anything for his friends, they all said.
"If someone needed something he'd give it to them," John Guidry said. "If he had a buck and they needed a buck, he'd give it to them. He'd go broke."
Also, because of his love of animals, he rescued dogs and cats. In fact, when he was in St. Louis, he learned about a building slated for demolition where a feral cat colony lived so he went and rescued them, said his dad who cares for the cats.
Tom Guidry had plans to finish his degree and had just been accepted as an apprentice electrician, his dad said. He liked to fill up his days with work, skiing, snowboarding, and he was also a phenomenal cook, said his friends and family whom he would cook for whenever he had the chance.
But Sunday was the last day many of them, including his parents, heard his voice. He called his mom, who at the time was in the middle of something and planned to talk to him later, and he left a message for his dad who was making bread deliveries to those in need.
"Now you spend all your time thinking what if I had taken that call," said his dad, before pausing. "He was the kindest person. ... Everyone just loved him. He was 5-foot-2 and afraid of nothing and nobody ... and maybe he should have been. ... I'm sorry we didn't answer that last call."
"He was such a good soul, a courageous kid," his dad said. "He wanted to do everything he could the best he could do it. ... He was everyone's friend."