© 2024 KLCC

136 W 8th Ave
Eugene OR 97401

Contact Us

FCC Applications
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Community Remembers The Veteran Whose Death Inspired Egan Warming Center

Friday is the 7th anniversary of the death of Major Thomas Egan. The Army veteran froze to death on a cold night in Eugene. His passing inspired the creation of The Egan Warming Center which offers a warm place for homeless people to sleep on freezing nights.

People gathered at the end of Blair Boulevard near the railroad tracks where Egan spent his last moments. He was found with a bottle of vodka. And he had a letter from his long-time friend Kate Saunders in his pocket. Saunders, who lives on the coast, comes to this ceremony each year. She says she had asked Egan to keep her letter.
“I want to know if anything ever happens to you. I want to be notified. Because, I had a feeling. He had had a couple of episodes where he’d had convulsions and ended up in the hospital. He’d gotten beaten up and ended up in the hospital. I wanted someone, I was thinking it wouldn’t be his dead body, but someone at a hospital would call me.”
Saunders says Egan never told her he had become homeless. He was still able to pick up mail at his old residence even after losing it.   Saunders says he would be surprised that he’s remembered by so many after his death and that he inspired the Egan Warming Center.


People gathered near the railroad tracks on Blair Boulevard in Eugene where Major Egan died alone on a snowy night. He was an alcoholic. He was found with a bottle of vodka by his side. Molly Westling is chair of the St. Vincent de Paul Board of Directors.
Westling: “Our community responded to the death of Major Egan as a call to action, creating the Egan Warming Center so that others would not die for the lack of emergency shelter.”
Hoyle: “One of the reasons that I’ve always come to this is that my grandfather died in the exact same way. On the east coast. In the bowery. In a place where he was tortured by demons of alcoholism. He got rolled and he had a fractured skull and he went to the hospital. What they saw was someone who was a drunk and someone who was not American and someone who didn’t have a family because he got embarrassed and he didn’t want to tell anyone about who his family was because he didn’t want to embarrass them. So he laid there in the hospital and bled to death because they didn’t see a person.”

Farr: “Tom and I served together in the 2nd battalion of the 162nd infantry. I wear my badges and my patches that I wore with Tom. Now, I knew Tom pretty well. Tom was a teacher. 30 years after I met him he died right there. If I’d seen him the night before, maybe I could have helped him. Anyone of us can say the same thing but we didn’t and it really points out the way that Tom Egan is teaching us today. Today, we’re gathering momentum. Any night that any man, woman or child is cold, wet or hungry we have a responsibility to solve that problem.”
Lane County Commissioner Pat Farr. Before him we heard from State Representative Val Hoyle. At the ceremony, CAHOOTS as honored with a Ribbon of Promise Award for its work helping people in crisis.

There's a fundraiserfor the Egan Warming Center at Tsunami Books in Eugene Friday night.

Rachael McDonald is KLCC’s host for All Things Considered on weekday afternoons. She also is the editor of the KLCC Extra, the daily digital newspaper. Rachael has a BA in English from the University of Oregon. She started out in public radio as a newsroom volunteer at KLCC in 2000.
Related Content