By Greg Russell
Thomas Marak has made a career of helping others capture moments in time and preserving
these memories for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Often times he does it under
the watch of guard dogs and law enforcement personnel.
Marak has built time capsules for the Clinton Presidential Library, NASA Cape Kennedy,
Martin Luther King Jr. National Monument, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Muscogee Indian
Nation and the National Park Service, among many others.
“Some of the clients during the sealing process of the capsule have had guard dogs
and security people on site because of the nature of the contents going in,” said
Marak, president of Time Capsules Inc. “They might be political documents or very
valuable and irreplaceable objects.”
Marak’s latest time capsule didn’t require such security; he built the capsule that
was placed in the base of the bronze tiger sculpture that was unveiled April 20 on
the Alumni Mall just west of the University Center. The sculpture itself is a new
centerpiece of campus tradition. Built entirely with private funds, it was created
by noted artist David Alan Clark of Lander, Wyo.
The sculpture and capsule are part of the University of Memphis’ centennial celebration.
The University of Memphis’ bronze tiger sculpture unveiled April 20 will be carrying
a little history with it: a time capsule to be opened every 25 years and filled with
U of M memorabilia will go in the base of the statue. (Photo by Rhonda Cosentino)
“The time capsule has four chambers, each of which will be opened in 25-year increments,”
said Claire Frisbee, a U of M graduate assistant majoring in school counseling who
assisted in the project. “The first will be opened in 2037; each time one compartment
is opened, it will be refilled and sealed again.”
Added Dean of Students Stephen Petersen, “By filling a chamber every 25 years, in
100 years we will have 100 years worth of history that can be placed in the University’s
archives. What a wonderful way to remember what the University of Memphis is all about.”
Items placed in the time capsule include an iPad, a University of Memphis retro basketball
jersey history, social media screen shots, a campus map, recorded testimonies about
“What the U of M means to me” and books about the University’s centennial.
Also included are letters that freshmen and senior students wrote to students who
will be freshmen and seniors in 2037.
Education major Kelly Pietkiewicz recalled camping out for 14 hours in front of FedExForum
prior to the Memphis and University of Tennessee basketball game her freshman year
as well as her involvement in community-based organizations and fund-raising drives
for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. She urges students in 2037 to take advantage
of “all the amazing opportunities this university has to offer.”
Marak said the sealing process preserves the life of the objects that are included
in the capsule for years to come.
“The items that are made of paper are guaranteed for at least 500 years,” said Marak.
“And probably much, much longer.”
He said he has seen Native-American headdresses, vials of water from Chesapeake Bay,
candy bars and “even a $1 million check someone made out to his kids” placed in various
time capsules he has constructed.
His company also created 56 time capsules to capture the nation’s history during the
country’s bicentennial celebration in 1976; these will be opened in 2076.
For a video shot by U of M videographer Marty Deull on the capsule, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jOOgiYh0Wk.