It is with deep sorrow and loss that the family of Thomas L. Hartigan announces his passing. Tom died at his home on October 8, 2019 surrounded by family after a very sudden diagnosis of cancer.
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Tom was born to Richard J. and Rose M. Derouchie Hartigan on July 19, 1936. He attended Massena schools and married the love of his life Gladys Wilson 60 years ago. They built a life around the Brasher Iron Works area and raised their kids there. The economic times were hard for everyone and Tom struggled as well to provide for his family even to the point of being a vacuum cleaner salesman. Tom admitted he hated being a salesman but kept at it to provide for his family. He eventually landed a state highway job from which he retired. His relentless perseverance instilled an unwavering work ethic in his children; one of ‘work hard and you will be rewarded’. Everyone had to work. In the summer there were strawberries and blueberries to pick to sell and in the fall there was wood to cut and stack.
Tom was proud of his kids and often said that, “not a one of our kids were trouble…till they got older” and, ‘ain’t a one of ‘em in jail…now.” Tom is survived by his wife Gladys, his children; Thomas Jr (Skip). (Lisa), Brasher Falls; Scott (Lori), Massena, Tina (Mike), Mexico, Jim (Shari), Massena and Wanda (Mark), Massena. Tom is also survived by his sister’s Harriet LaMay, Massena; Ann and Gary Durant, Massena and Winona Weaver, Alabama. Continuing in true Irish fashion Tom is survived by 11 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren.
Tom was predeceased by his parents and his siblings Rose, James, Edward, Richard C and John.
Tom faced several obstacles in his early adulthood. One was when Gladys had to be hospitalized for months and he had to take on the role of mommy/daddy. One of the kids’ birthdays came up and he had to shop for presents and make a cake. He thought he had it made when he finagled his mom into making the cake. He clearly had no idea what he was doing because he came home with presents for ALL the kids, not just the birthday child. He did not want a one of them to feel left out and wanted to protect them from feeling hurt.
Tom had had practice being the protector. It started when he was a young boy protecting his younger sisters. One particular instance he had found out his youngest sister, (we won’t name names), was hanging out with a racy crowd. Tom went to find her and bring her home, in order to protect her from harm. Tom wasn’t always the all business. He loved his corny jokes and surprising people.
Ever the jokester he even teased his own momma who spoke French fluently. He would ask her, “Hey Ma—how do you say ‘late’ in French?” His mom would always answer, “tard”. He would laugh and say, “No Ma—it’s ‘missa de bus’!
Tom was loved by many and he and Gladys had an ‘open door’ policy at their home for everyone, even politicians! He clarified by stating that he only let them in the house because they handed out full size Hershey bars! Tom lived a colorful life and enjoyed many activities which included: softball as a coach and player; bowling, stock car racing and he and his family went fishing every Friday night. Whether they liked it or not.
In his later years he and his wife Gladys enjoyed spending their childrens’ inheritance at the casino. They also just enjoyed being home bodies. 60 years of being married to the same person honed his skills for humor, humility, graciousness and a loving spirit. That loving spirit has protected and guided his family with each heartbreaking issue. He couldn’t prepare them for the ultimate heartbreaking issue: his passing.
The family would like to thank the many neighbors and friends for their support and love all through the years. Tom has been cared for in the last few months by Skip and Lisa who have juggled medical appointments, household mishaps and the occasional off color joke. Tom has left a void which can only be replaced with the thought that ‘he’s in a much better place” probably being the jokester. He is already missed by ALL.
A Celebration of Tom’s life will be held on Saturday at 1pm at the Helena Fire Department, 1175 NY-37C, Helena NY 13649.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests you make donations to your local Alzheimer’s Association.