Sam Hollister was always close to his twin brother Tom. And, as they grew older, they grew even closer.
The brothers were born in Kenya and spent 10 years living in Thailand.
They sang in a high school rock band and played shows in Tallahassee.
Tom, who transferred to UF this semester to study electrical engineering, was a diligent student and a loyal friend.
On March 13, Tom and his father, David Hollister, were driving on U.S. Highway 98 on their way to Carrabelle, a small beach town in the Panhandle. They were killed when a pine tree hit their car, causing it to swerve into a ditch.
Sam said his dad and brother were alike in their ability to easily make friends.
Tom did not prejudge people and was an easy person to get along with, Sam said.
“He took everybody at face value,” Sam said.
His international upbringing did not prevent Tom from keeping his friends close.
He made a strong effort to maintain his friendships and check up on the people he cared about, Sam said.
Maggie Lawrence, a UF journalism senior, met Tom in a high school photography class and had just reconnected with him a few weeks before Spring Break.
“I know he was really proud and happy to be accepted into UF,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence said Tom was just a typical young guy. He was very laid-back and fun, she said.
“The most noticeable thing about him is he is just really sweet,” Lawrence said.
Sam said Tom was also a motivated student.
He was in the top of his physics and calculus classes at Tallahassee Community College and had friends come over to his house to study.
When he was not doing school work, Tom played the drums or tossed around a football with his brother.
Michelle Legaspi, a UF chemistry senior and high school friend of Tom’s, said Tom also made spoof films of music videos and TV shows.
Since hearing about the accident, she has been watching some of videos.
“He was one of the quieter ones, but he was always pretty funny,” Legaspi said.
Legaspi said Tom’s friends are still in shock after hearing about the bizarre and tragic accident.
“A lot of us are reminiscing about high school and the old days and how it used to be,” Legaspi said.
Sam remembers a more recent trip to Key West that he took with Tom and a friend last summer.
They went to a small bar and sang a karaoke rendition of “Hotel California.”
“For me, looking back on it, that was a really special time for me, just spending time with my brother,” Sam said.