The Historical Society of Harford County Online Memorial
Thomas Rollins Chambers, Jr.
1945 - 2006
Written by El Penski in March 2006

Tom Chambers November 2005 Reading of of Book: Manorborn,
Susan Lesser (editor), Carol Bindel (editor), and
Tom (program chair)

Thomas Rollins Chambers, Jr., was the son of Margaret Lee Smith Chambers (1913 - 2001) and Thomas R. Chambers Sr., who was the son of Mary Hamilton Chambers. Tom had a younger brother, Timothy (1952 -1998), a meteorological technician. Tom was a life-long Fallston, Harford County resident. He graduated from Bel Air High School and Harford Community College in 1964. After attending Towson State College, he worked in the William H. Welch Medical Library of the Johns Hopkins University before he began his writing career. Tom was a spectator at many local sporting events including football, soccer and softball, and personally enjoyed golf, the ocean, and cross-country skiing.

He published three poetry books: two that he authored, The Poetry of Love (1972) and Going Home to My Girl (1973). In the case of the third, he was an editor and author, Signals, an Anthology of Poems from the Radio Series Harford Poetry Society Presents. He attended writing workshops in the Johns Hopkins University Evening College where he became a staff member of the literary journal Nocturne. Also, he served for several years as the Editor of the Maryland State Poetry Society Newsletter, Maryland Musings, and President of the Harford Poetry Society. Some of his work has been published in the Maryland Poetry Review.

Jean E. Keenan, President of the Harford Poetry and Literary Society, said after Tom's death, "For more than 30 years, Tom Chambers has been a mainstay of the Harford Poetry and Literary Society. The Harford Poet, first published in 1977 by the society, was created, edited and distributed to the Harford County libraries and other locations by Tom. He found places for us to hold our readings, took care of our extensive poetry collection and provided on-going publicity about our activities. Tom has shared his poetry and himself. He gave our members and other writers an open forum to present their works and their literary knowledge." (Keenan, J.E., On Tom Chambers, Harford Loses a Literary Voice, The Aegis, Bel Air, MD, January 27, 2006, page A10.)

Nathan Leslie, fiction editor of The Pedestal Magazine, described Tom as his mentor and "one of the most generous and supportive folks in the Baltimore area literary community." He described how Tom purchased books from nearly every local author and searched local events for speakers. Even though Tom was an accomplished poet and loved to talk, Leslie pointed out that Tom spoke most effectively with actions rather than words.

Tom volunteered at The Historical Society of Harford County for about two days a week for 20 years. He was very helpful to researchers, especially with the old newspapers collection. In addition, he knew the content of most of the books in the library. Tom also wrote:

  • A compilation of data on Rev. John Allen, early educator and abolitionist, and his wife, Brasseya, the first County published poet.
  • Harford County Newspapers of the 19th Century, Harford Historical Bulletin
    • Harford's Rich Newspaper Heritage
    • The Travail of Early Newspapers in Harford County
    • Political Parties, Their Newspapers, and their Battling Editors
    • Political Upheaval Brings Upheaval to Harford County Newspaper Publishing

Tom, who was 61, died very suddenly, on January 19, 2006, with a heart attack at his family home in Fallston where he lived alone. When he did not show up at the Historical Society at his usual time, Jean Sherman notified authorities. Probably, had it not been for her concern, his body may have remained undiscovered for weeks.

REFERENCES
  • Chambers, T.R., The Poetry of Love Poems, Hillcrest Publishing, Kingsville, MD, 1972.
  • Chambers, T.R., Going Home to My Girl, The Seton Poems, Hillcrest Publishing, Kingsville, MD, 1973.
  • Chambers, T.R., Harford County Newspapers of the 19th Century, Harford Historical Bulletin, Harford County, Maryland, Number 50, pages 87-132, Fall 1991.
  • Chambers, T.R., "Stunt Flyer" and "Riding the Teeter Totter," Manorborn, a collection of poems, Harford Poetry and Literary Society, 2003.
  • Chambers, T.R., (Editor and author of many poems), The Harford Poet, Harford County Chapter of the Maryland State Poetry Society, 1977 - May 1986.
  • Chambers, T.R., Old Places, New Destinations, Crist, V.W., and Keenan, J.E., Spotlights #15, The Harford Poetry Society, WinCri Productions, 1995. (an 8 page broadside)
  • Chambers, T.R., Nightfall, The Poe Issue of Late Knocking, 1988. (a short story)
  • Crist, V., Chambers, T., and Keenan, J. E., Editors and Authors, Signals, an Anthology of Poems from the Radio Series Harford Poetry Society Presents, Chestnut Hill Press, Inc., Baltimore, Maryland, 1983.
  • Keenan, J.E., On Tom Chambers, Harford Loses a Literary Voice, The Aegis, Bel Air, MD, January 27, 2006, page A10.)
  • Leslie, N., Fiction Section, Introduction, The Pedestal Magazine Issue # 32, February 21 to April 21, 2006.
Obituaries and Death Notices
  • Margaret L. Chambers, The Aegis, Bel Air, MD, November, 2001.
  • Rasmussen, F.N., Obituary: Thomas R. Chambers Jr., 61, Harford County Poet, The [Baltimore] Sun, Jan. 22, 2006, page 4B.
  • Thomas R. Chambers Jr., Death Notice, The [Baltimore] Sun, Jan. 22, 2006, page 4B.
  • Timothy L. Chambers, The Aegis, Bel Air, MD, Jan. 14, 1998.
  • Tom Chambers, Poet, Dies, The Aegis, Bel Air, MD, Jan. 25, 2006, page A13.

The following is one of Tom's many poems from the book above: Signals . . .

THE CATALYST          

The moment the explosion occurs
Love is inevitable.
As the chemicals mix
And that yearning begins,
Denial would be futile.
All kinds of events are set in motion,
Sweet ones and painful ones, too,
All leading to fulfillment
As lovers love.
The catalyst - the time and place
Where love is born -
is like a magician's trick,
Love exists where no love was before.
From out of the hearts and minds
Come the images of love
To dance and play and sing,
Leaving an indelible impression
Forever on the world.
That moment when love comes alive
Is like no other,
It stands alone as an unique achievement,
Significant, vital, and perfect
In an otherwise meaningless world.

Tom Chambers

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: I owe many thanks to Susan Lesser of the The Harford Poetry and Literary Society for access to their library, providing photographs of Tom, and other assistance. Also, I owe thanks to Doris Barben of Genealogy, Mary Henderson of the Library, and the Archives Staff of the Historical Society of Harford County.

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