The Spectrum remembers Thomas Halleck
Colleagues share memories of former editor and friend, who died on Jan. 9
Thomas Halleck was a “fireball.”
He was the kind of guy who lit up every room he entered.
Sometimes with his infectious passion for journalism.
Other times with a couple of pizza slices, a hula hoop and a toilet paper roll in hand.
Halleck, a former news editor, managing editor and editorial editor at The Spectrum, died at the age of 31 on Jan. 9 after battling mental health issues and alcoholism. He worked at The Spectrum between 2006-07 and, after graduating from UB, went on to work at the International Business Times as a staff reporter between 2013 and 2015. Halleck’s former colleagues at The Spectrum remember him most for his cheerful personality.
Halleck met his wife, Jackelyn Arnone, while attending UB. She described The Spectrum office as Halleck’s “happy place.” She said he “showed off” the office to her when he first got the job.
She felt proud when she read the articles he wrote.
“I would look for his articles and get butterflies with anticipation. It was like dating a famous person, everyone on campus read The Spectrum and my man was in charge,” Arnone said.
Halleck, aside from journalism, worked as a sales and design consultant, as well as a business development manager.
Fellow Spectrum alumni who worked with Halleck remember him most for his gregarious personality and warm presence in the newsroom.
“I knew I was in for a good day if I saw his blonde hair at our desk clump. He was that kind of person.” said former news editor Rebecca Reeves.
“Tom was a good soul. He cared about people and understood them. He made you feel at home in the kindest, funniest way possible,” said Rachel Bellavia, a former managing editor.
David Jarka, who worked as a sports editor at The Spectrum similarly described Halleck as “happy-go-lucky.”
Other former colleagues also recalled the integrity and passion Halleck had as a journalist.
In fact, Jarka credited his decision to pursue professional journalism outside of UB to Halleck’s passion for the field — which he said was infectious.
“What really always struck me about him . . . was just his enthusiasm about journalism in general and the act of presenting information to the public,” Jarka said.
Halleck’s former peers all remember his sense of humor, which never failed to lift the spirits of everyone he knew, and often included dance routines.
“His humor was on-point, random and truly one of a kind,” Reeves said.
Bellavia recalls how Halleck once came back from an interview, and after finishing his article, he proceeded to perform an interpretive dance using “toilet paper, a hula hoop and two slices of pizza.”
Jarka also reminisced about the times he and Halleck would blow off steam by “goofing around” — playing basketball, throwing darts and “taking it to the tree line,” where the guys who worked at The Spectrum would wrestle each other if they had a heated debate. He was caught off guard by his friend’s ability to put him in a choke hold.
Halleck’s colleagues were upset about the circumstances of his death, saying they never would have imagined Halleck was battling mental health issues.
Halleck worked hard to overcome his illness for the sake of his wife and two children, but was ultimately unable to do so, according to his sister-in-law Ali Arnone Case.
Case also wrote in a Facebook post that Halleck’s death may have been prevented if there was greater awareness and acceptance of mental health issues.
The Arnone family set up a Gofundme account to provide funding for Arnone and Halleck’s children, Clara and Peter. The Gofundme page raised over $28,000 so far, surpassing its $100 goal.
Halleck leaves behind a legacy of kindness, passion and good humor.
“The Spectrum was lucky to have him. Anyone was lucky to know him,” Reeves said.
If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health or substance abuse issues, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline can be reached at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
Tanveen Vohra is a Co-senior News Editor and can be reached at Tanveen.firstname.lastname@example.org and @TanveenUBSpec.