SPARTANBURG, SC (WSPA) – Over the weekend, our 7 News team lost a member of our family.

Longtime Photojournalist Thomas Colones died while at home on Friday. He was 66.

If you’ve watched our station even once over the last 44 years, you’ve seen his work on-air.

Tommy Colones is a tale too tall to tell. Describing him to a stranger is like explaining a unicorn to someone who’s never seen a horse.

He started shooting the news at WSPA in September of 1976, and kept on shooting until the last day of his life — lugging all of that gear, dragging with him the common thread that binds every South Carolina story for nearly a half century.

Forty-four years of smiles, and sweetness and scowls.

On the few occasions Tommy made it in front of the camera, he was reporting on his greatest passion — our Greatest Generation.

Tommy’s father was a Marine during World War II and he honored him with an annual pilgrimage to Normandy, France, which often made our air.

A veteran and our Veterans Correspondent at Pearl Harbor and at Arlington, his voice was always insisting our local coverage go farther, do more, to understand and celebrate the lives of heroes.

Tommy was honest, and humble and hilarious.

He was our station’s most polite and respectful representative, and the first to take us down a peg for those of us too big for our britches.

Tommy was the kind of co-worker who always asked about your family because he actually cared about the answer.

He was the kind of friend you’d never shake because he was too loyal to let you down.

For new hires, Tommy was often their first friend here.

He was the kind of friend everyone at WSPA loved.

A small, family funeral with no visitation has been planned for Tommy on Friday.

7 News will live stream Tommy’s funeral starting at 3 p.m. on WSPA’s Facebook page.