Tom Radulovic (’83) was at a high school graduation celebration the other day in Winston-Salem when someone noticed his tat. Up went his sleeve, and there it was, a tattoo in full splendor. “I call it the Grateful Deacon,” he says.
It’s a cross between a Grateful Dead skull and a Wake Forest Demon Deacon underscored by the University’s “Pro Humanitate” motto promoting service to humanity. “It’s not exactly yin and yang,” he says. “It exists in tension, which is what I like. Life and death. That’s not what this represents to me. It’s kind of fun, and it pushes that edge a tad further. And it’s also a way to show my school colors.”
Radulovic looks back on his Wake Forest days as the “real formative years” and the time he made “life-changing friendships.” A group of his Kappa Sigma fraternity brothers and a few others have been gathering annually for 25 years to play golf at the beach. He lists them: Rich Wagner, Frank Lash, Guy Beaver, John Knapp, John Passacantando, Ed Thompson, all ’83 classmates. They will convene for the annual “hacking around” later this summer near Charleston, S.C.
“We’ve been through a lot of life events. Birth of kids. Death of parents. The whole thing. It’s been a nice way to stay connected to a group of friends,” he says.
In their honor he got his first tattoo, a flaming golf ball on his leg. But he wanted something more significant, something to commemorate a bond with his dad. His father was ill. The diagnosis was cancer, and the cancer had metastasized. His father was going to need a new hip and he wanted a symbol of hope pierced right on that new hip for the long haul. “He said, ‘I’m going to get a rainbow tattoo,’ and I said, ‘Dad, let’s do it. Let’s go together. He never got well enough to be able to.” His father passed away, but Tom kept thinking about that tattoo pledge.
Last September he knew what he wanted. He went to Earth’s Edge tattoo studio in Winston-Salem carrying pictures of skull tattoos and a Demon Deacon. Now, Tom Radulovic, loyal son, father of two daughters and the religion major who is looking to start his next chapter as a public school teacher, sports a pronouncement of University school spirit that cannot be denied. “It was a great place to go to school,” he says. His Grateful Deacon “is one way to fly your colors and maybe a little bit unique.”
Go Deacs indeed! We’re all grateful Deacons, Tom. Thanks for flying our colors.