UPTOWN — Family and friends are mourning the loss of a longtime Harry S. Truman College professor who died near the school Tuesday afternoon in what police believe may have been a suicide.
Around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, police found the professor, Thomas Worms, 63, unconscious in the 1100 block of West Wilson Avenue, according to officials. About a half hour later, Worms was pronounced dead on the scene, according to the morgue.
Police said it appears Worms may have jumped to his death. Detectives are conducting a death investigation.
"It left a gaping hole in my heart," said Polly Zimmermann, a fellow professor. "I don't know if anybody can fill it."
"We were joined at the hip. He was my best friend [at the school]. I'm extremely saddened and overwhelmed with grief. My mom died six months ago, but Tom's death has been harder for me than that," Zimmermann said.
She went on to say that she's had to stop herself from emailing Worms multiple times before realizing that "he's not here anymore."
Worms taught in the school's nursing department for more than 20 years, Zimmermann said. For much of that time, he and Zimmermann worked closely; the pair co-taught second-year nursing classes together.
Zimmermann, who has been teaching at the school for almost 17 years, described Worms as a teacher with "high standards," as being "kind of strict" and a "walking encyclopedia."
"The students whined at the time, but they always came back and thanked him later," she said.
She also admired his teaching style and would say to him, "'I don't know what you're doing, Tom, but they get it so much better after you teach it.'"
Even though Worms lived on the South Side, he chose to work at Truman because the Uptown school felt like home, Zimmermann said.
The college is holding a celebration of life ceremony, but a date has yet to be determined.
An official at Truman College declined to comment on the nature of the death.
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