With Tommy “TC” Coveleski’s nephews and nieces standing beside the plaque during last Monday’s dedication, John Coveleski, TC’s oldest brother, addressed the crowd that had come to the dedication. “Simply put, Tommy was and always will be the heart and soul of the Rehoboth Beach Patrol,” John said. He was a lifeguard for more than 30 years and “he was the most selfless person that I have ever known. When he unfortunately died in February, the response was like I have never seen. You would think a president or a king [had died],” John said.
The plaque was presented to TC when he was still alive last September, hence its date.
“We had a big party last fall when Tommy was still around so he could enjoy it,” John stated. “We had 150 people come from 10 different states and everybody came to the party to put money in to buy this [plaque],” he added. “Tommy got to see it. As Tommy rolls,” John said, “he was big and he was selfless and everything else. When we did this, we brought [the plaque] over to his house. So when he got it, he [took] it and hid it.” He was too modest and did not want the publicity. So when Tommy passed, John said “it took two or three days to find [the plaque] and then we had to find a mason, and so against his will, here it is.”
“He was a special person. This is a great honor,” John added, noting that TC’s plaque is “right next to his father and my father’s, Frank Coveleski, so that kind of says it all.” Frank was a highly regarded RBP captain for many years who had six children, John being TC’s eldest sibling.
It was always assumed that TC would follow in his father’s footsteps and would one day lead the RBP. Although he was next in line, that never happened and exactly why he had been passed over for the top job has never been publicly explained. “That was another reaction like I have never seen,” John said in regard to why TC was overlooked for RBP captain. “People basically flooded city hall with e-mails, flooded the town meetings and the response was that it was an incredible injustice and that is how everybody felt about it…”
But, “bottom line is he just wanted to be a part of it,” John pointed out. “He really didn’t care about titles. I mean, he was happy just to be around lifeguards and… creating a legacy. So it is a double legacy we have here, Frank, his father, and Tommy,” John added.
John also thanked the city — and especially Krys Johnson, the city’s new communications specialist — for their efforts recognizing TC and getting the plaque mounted at the last minute. He said Ms. Johnson was instrumental in finding a mason who could mount the plaque so promptly.