Tudor W. Van Hampton died in Indianapolis, Ind., on February 4, 2017 from a Glioblastoma Multiforme brain tumor that was diagnosed in early 2016. He was 39 years old.
Van Hampton was born in Kansas City, Mo., on July 9, 1977, and grew up in and around Overland Park, Kan., attending Shawnee Mission West High School. He graduated from the University of Kansas in 1999 in Lawrence, Kan., with bachelor's degrees in English and Theater & Film.
From a young age, Van Hampton was fascinated with how things work. As a child, when he received a new toy, he would take it apart to tinker. When Van Hampton began working in middle school, some of his early jobs reflected that mechanical curiosity. Others helped prepare him for his future career. He worked as an amateur racing instructor, mechanic, building maintenance engineer, medical transcriptionist, newsletter editor, commercial painter, line cook, pizza delivery driver and resident assistant in college.
Ultimately, Van Hampton became a construction journalist, photographer, video producer and blogger. As the Managing Editor of Engineering News Record, a 143-year-old weekly construction and engineering magazine, he covered the construction industry nationally and internationally. An award-winning journalist, he made appearances on National Public Radio, NBC and CNBC, among others, for his expertise in cranes. To deepen his knowledge of construction equipment, in 2007 Van Hampton became a licensed crane operator.
Van Hampton also was a longtime freelance journalist who contributed for five years to the Automobiles section of The New York Times. He and his family relocated to Indianapolis in 2011, where he lived and worked, with passion and pride, until shortly before his death.
Van Hampton was a connector of people, a creative force, a brilliant storyteller, a theater buff, a connoisseur of bad jokes and bourbon, a yo-yo enthusiast, and a gentle, genuine and generous man. He took great pride in his home, his vintage car--a 1965 Chevrolet Corvair Monza named Gladys--and his commitment to perfect barbecue.
But his love of his family and friends was unsurpassed. He was tenderly devoted to the love of his life, Jenie Van Hampton, with whom he spent 21 years goofing around, ten of which were state-sanctioned. He adored and doted on his six-year-old daughter, Jordan Van Hampton, who shows flashes of his curiosity, boldness and sense of the ridiculous. He drew friends from all over the country--and globe--whom he cherished.
One close family friend said, "He told me when he first got sick a year ago that he lived the life he wanted--married the woman he loved, had the family he always dreamed of, loved his job and his friends--and he put every inch of his heart into those things."
Another said, "Tudor was larger than life. He lived his own with insatiable curiosity and incomparable wit, and punctuated it all with his trademark laughter. Tudor was selfless and believed in living life in the present with those he loved most, in coaxing joy and beauty from every day and from even the darkest moments. Tudor managed to show us all, even in his last year of life, that this is possible."
And another: "I could never have enough adjectives for Tudor, but kind, brilliant, funny, strong, caring, compassionate and remarkable all come to mind. I've never met anyone like him and doubt I ever will."
Finally, "I think if you put your ear to my heart today, you'd hear the ocean of tears I've been crying. But high above that, you might also hear Tudor, singing with defiant humor."
Van Hampton is survived by his wife, Jenie Van Hampton, daughter, Jordan Van Hampton, father-in-law, Wagner Van Vlack, and mother-in-law, Julie Van Vlack, who live in Indianapolis, by his mother, Elizabeth Hampton, and older sister, Shantih Hampton, who live in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and by his father, Robert Hampton, who lives in Cunningham, Kan., near Wichita.
A memorial service will be held in Indianapolis in the coming months. Contributions in lieu of flowers may be made in Van Hampton's name to Habitat for Humanity of Greater Indianapolis: http://indyhabitat.org.
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