NISKAYUNA -- The life of Thomas Flood, a retired Niskayuna teacher remembered as approachable and a teacher with a gift for making students care about school, will be celebrated Wednesday at the school in which he taught, the district announced Monday.
Flood, 61, of Schenectady, died last week in a Vermont lake accident. He served as an English teacher in the Niskayuna Central School District for years until his 2014 retirement.
The celebration of his life is being held at the family's request, the district said on its website. It is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in the Niskayuna High School auditorium, and the event is open to the public, the district said.
A Facebook event post about the celebration by Flood's son Lucas states the celebration will be "upbeat and casual," and will take the place of any wake or funeral service.
"I can't stress enough how much my Dad hated all the sadness that surrounded wakes/funerals, so laughter & a celebration of his life is absolutely mandatory," the son wrote. "We all must abide."
The last line is a reference to a nickname of Flood's that was inspired by the movie "The Big Lebowski," the main character of which is named "The Dude." The event is titled "Celebrating The Dude (Tom Flood)."
Lucas Flood also wrote that the high school will set up a scholarship in Flood's name. Details were expected in the coming weeks.
"Thank you all for the outreach thus far; our family loves all of you so much," Lucas Flood wrote. "Keep the stories coming, please share this event with everyone, and thank you for the respect you've shown for The Dude."
Flood was boating with his wife Thursday on Lake St. Catherine in Vermont when they stopped to float in inner tubes tied to the boat, police there said. Flood, who was not wearing a flotation device, fell out of his tube and couldn't make it back to the boat. His body was recovered by divers Friday.
Former students remembered him Friday as a teacher who appealed to all students.
"The nerds loved him. The jocks loved him. He, somehow, was able to make us bratty teenagers care -- while still maintaining his cool, jaded, sarcastic persona," former student Susan Rella, who graduated from Niskayuna High in 1997, recalled Friday. "He made smart seem cool. And deep down, he was all heart, and all he ever wanted was for his students to feel like successes."