It’s with a heavy heart that we share the news that Tom Jolls aka “Commander Tom,” best known for being a WBKW anchor and a children’s show host, has passed away. He was 89 years old.
Tom's family announced his death of Wednesday, June 7, 2023. “It's 11 o'clock, do you know where your children are?" was one of his iconic phrases.
Tom's fans and admirers have taken to social media to pay their respects, but folks are wondering about his cause of death. Here’s the full scoop.
What's was Tom Jolls's cause of death?
Prayers up! According to WBKW, Tom passed away at the Buffalo Hospice in Cheektowaga, a Buffalo suburb, on Wednesday afternoon.
The Jolls family shared a statement with the outlet that touches on his unknown illness.
“His brief illness was a blessing as he did not suffer much and passed away with his family by his bedside,” the family said.
The family detailed Tom’s accomplishments while giving him praise as a broadcaster and a family man.
“As a family, we could not be any prouder than we are of [Tom’s] illustrious television career,” Jolls family said. “Better yet, he was an even better family man. [Tom] was a very shy and private man off the air, and as such, we will celebrate his life with a private family-only service. He will always be our Commander. To all his family, friends, and fans, he would hope you all make your lives salubrious.”
At this time, there is no word on if there will be a public memorial for fans to pay their respects. The outlet shared that the family has asked for donations to be made to Buffalo Hospice, in lieu of flowers.
Tom Jolls lived a full life and garnered many amazing accomplishments.
Tom started his career in 1953 at WUSJ Radio in Lockport and WBES-TV, a UHF station with studios in Buffalo. After one Army tour, Tom returned to WUSJ and joined WBEN AM-FM-TV in 1963.
After spending some time at Channel 4, Tom moved on to WBKW in 1965 where he worked alongside news anchor Irv Weinstein and sports director Rick Azar for over 30 years.
Tom was inducted into the Buffalo Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 1998 and retired a year later. Tom was inducted into the New York State Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame in 2019.
Aside from Tom’s career as a news anchor, he also sprinkled his magic in the children’s television space via the Commander Tom Show, which aired on WBKW from 1965 to 1991.
The show featured several puppets including: Dustmop, a dog puppet, Matty the Mod, an alligator puppet, and Cecily Fripp, the first female puppet on the show.
“Tom Jolls was one of the truly nicest people I worked with in broadcasting,” Nancy Sanders, a former Channel 7 news executive told Buffalo News. “I think people loved him because of his impish smile and for his long run as Commander Tom. Many were thinking of his homemade puppets Dustmop, and Matty the Mod even while he changed roles doing the Weather Outside.”
Tom leaves behind six children, 16 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, and his wife of 68 years, Janice Jolls.
We’d like to give our deepest condolences to the family, friends, and loved ones of Tom Jolls.