Connon, Tom

Tom Connon, 63, who passed away on Sunday, June 23, was everybody’s favorite even though he would have humbly denied this. Now that he’s not here to protest, it’s a bittersweet truth that we can finally sing Tommy’s praises.

Whether it was pasta and cannoli at an Italian restaurant (his favorite), late-night leftovers and conversation at 2:00 AM in the kitchen, or the occasional gas station hot dog, Tom was a witty and interesting dining companion who was as comfortable eating on a white tablecloth as he was in the front seat of his Honda.

Sadly, one of the tragedies of Tom’s life is that he never appeared on Jeopardy. He could wipe out a category faster than most of us could find the remote. His Guesstures performances were legendary, and his country music Name That Tune abilities would rival those of anyone at the Grand Ole Opry. Willie’s Roadhouse never had a more enthusiastic fan.

Born in Denver, Colorado on May 5, 1956, Tom spent most of his life living in Stamford, Connecticut after his family moved there in the mid-1960’s. Tom made his mark as the captain of the Westhill High School wrestling team and went on to wrestle at Southern Connecticut State University before transferring to the University of Connecticut in Storrs. After college, he worked as a housepainter, salesman, and as a news reporter among other jobs. One of his favorite jobs was working as a lifeguard at Cummings Beach where he worked alongside his older brother and best friend, Bill.

With a natural technical proficiency, Tom eventually found work as an audiovisual technician at M Communications in Stamford, where he had a life-long connection to the company owned by his childhood friend, Alex. He also spent more than a decade commuting to New York City to work as a corporate AV specialist at AllianceBernstein. By all accounts, the clients enjoyed working with Tom, particularly the conference presenter who accidentally went into the bathroom wearing his live microphone, but was stopped by Tom in the nick of time.

Tom enjoyed traveling. In addition to traveling for work, some of the more memorable trips Tom made during his life included a mission trip to Russia with the Grace Evangelical Church (where he ran the sound board for many years), and to Hawaii with his older sister, Muffie, where they watched Sumo wrestling and toured Pearl Harbor.

Tom also made frequent trips to Arizona spending Christmases with Muffie, her husband Clarke, and with their children Clark, Jonathan and Amy hiking Camelback Mountain and riding mules across the border in Nogales. Reviving his Western routes, Tom often showed up at the Phoenix airport wearing a cowboy hat. While out West, Tom enjoyed the Desert Botanical Garden’s annual holiday Luminaria exhibit, and he spent time soaking up the desert sun and swimming in the pool with the family Labs.

For many summers, you could find Tom sailing off the coast of Mystic, Connecticut with his brother Bill, Bill’s wife, Nancy, and from time to time their daughter Katie, son-in-law, Pete, and son Mike. As life-long Yankee fans, Tom and Bill (along with cousins Jamie and John) made numerous trips to Yankee stadium and followed in the fan tradition instilled in them as children by their grandfather who listened to the games on transistor radio. Tom also participated with Bill yearly in the Thanksgiving Day Road Race in Manchester, the occasional Canton Connecticut 5K Lobster Loop, kayaked and tubed in the Farmington River, and spent time working on handyman projects where Tom developed a reputation for regularly wearing a headlamp and, over time, convinced everyone else in the family to wear one, too. (Bill now keeps one in his car and at least one niece and a nephew swear by them.) Tom, also known as T-Man, built a swing set with Bill and their Dad when Bill’s daughter Katie was about 3, and Tom enjoyed years of giving Katie and, later, her brother Mike “Ka-BOOMs,” and more recently, Lilly, his great niece and god daughter, though those were more like “ka-booms.”

Throughout his life, Tom was known for his keen sense of humor and dry wit. He never missed an opportunity to share his comedic view of the world with his sister Joanne, her partner Jack, her son, Makano, Jack’s son, John (wife Raisa and son Johnny) and daughter Ashley (husband Ken). With Joanne and her family, Tom found comic inspiration, a shared fondness for the absurd and an appreciation of the arts. Whether it was visiting a NYC museum, or attending a New Yorker Festival panel or a Willie Nelson concert, Tom was always poised to explore Manhattan, and beyond. Sometimes they simply stayed at Joanne’s in Milford, Connecticut and played Scene It? and ate Pepe’s pizza. Tom filled many roles in this world, but there are few that he took more seriously than that of his role as Joanne’s protective older brother, and she was equally devoted to him.

Tom was a dynamic addition to holiday gatherings taking place in the homes of his siblings as well as in the home of his cousin, Joanne, who never missed an opportunity to include him. Tom was an “adoptive son” to Bill’s parents-in-law, Bob and Gloria, who thoroughly loved Tom as one of their own. Although there may have been times when Tom felt disappointment because he did not have a family of his own, in his death, it has become clear that Tom had many families: three with his siblings and more with his cousins and their families (Jamie and wife Carolyn; John, wife Roxanne, and children Jade and Pearl; and Joanne, husband Bernie, and children Brady and Christopher). One family might just not have been enough for all the love Tom had to give.

As Tom’s health declined due to his battle with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP), one of his true joys were visits from his nieces and nephews. Over the years, Uncle Tom had rarely missed a religious milestone, sporting competition, musical recital, birthday party, or school event. He helped out on college move in/move out days and attended graduations from Boston to Montreal to Tucson. At the end of his life, he was visibly moved by the love he felt from his nieces and nephews. Even his great niece, Lilly, lifted Tom’s spirits by seeing past his wheelchair and inviting him to dance and sing with her.

Tom’s humility, kindness, generosity and intelligence stood out to all who knew him. His friend Brian said that Tom tried to present himself as an “average Joe,” but that he had trouble pulling this off because his elevated vocabulary and wordsmith skills gave him away. Another example of his character occurred during a difficult time in Tom’s life. Even though Tom knew he could not benefit from his efforts because there is no known cure for PSP, he volunteered to participate in lengthy and tiring research studies at Yale to help find treatment options for PSP sufferers who would come after him.

Tom was predeceased by his parents, Marianne and Jack Connon, his aunt and uncle, Joan and Peter Moore, his maternal grandparents, Jane and Frank Smith, his paternal grandparents Agnes and John Connon, and by his brother, Johnny Connon, who passed away in infancy.

As we say good-bye to Tom, we quote Willie Nelson, one of Tom’s favorites, and his song, Just Breathe:

Nothing you would take,
Everything you gave.
Love you till I die,
Meet you on the other side.

We will all miss you, Tom.

His entire family extends a special thank you to the loving caregivers at the Cherry Brook Health Care Center in Canton and at Saint Francis Hospital in Hartford.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Friday (June 28) at 10:00am in St. Patrick’s Church, Collinsville. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Cure PSP at psp.org or to the Connecticut Humane Society at give.cthumane.org.

Calling Hours

Funeral Service

Friday, June 28, 2019 at 10:00am in St. Patrick's Church ~ Collinsville

Burial

Memorial Contribution

Cure PSP at psp.org or to the Connecticut Humane Society at give.cthumane.org.

21 Responses to 'Connon, Tom'

  1. Shelia Cahill says:

    I knew Tom from Grace Church. He was such a humble guy! Always willing to take on a project (especially a technical one), and to share his skills with others. I have two sons who learned the lights and sound boards at church thanks to Tom taking the time and patience to instruct them. In more recent years I would occasionally see him at the local grocery store or the bank and he was still the same genuine caring man I knew years ago. He will be thought of often in our family and remembered fondly.

  2. Kathie Taylor says:

    I knew Tom through Grace Church. There he was known as “MacGyver” because of his many talents and uncanny ability to know how to do any project. In 1992 the church’s second parsonage needed extensive work and Tom did much of it, especially hanging drywall, taping and painting. As much as we appreciated his skill, it was his selfless service volunteering so much of his time that really meant so much to us. He didn’t look for recognition but humbly worked even when no one else was around. I’ve now lived in that parsonage for over 25 years and am forever grateful for all Tom did to give us a wonderful place to live and to minister to others. His labor of love continues to bless others.
    Great is his reward in heaven!

  3. Nick Giancola says:

    I am so sorry to hear about Tom‘s passing. I was his wrestling coach at Westhill high school. Not only was he an outstanding wrestler; he was a great captain and leader. He set an example for the younger teammates and Westhill Athletics.

  4. Kevin. Eagan says:

    I cannot even begin to count the fond memories I have from my childhood of Tom. Tom was between my brother Jim and I in school but we were all friends. On Tom’s first day in Stamford we played baseball in my back yard and I hit a line drive right into Tom’s teeth; loosening them all. My mom was profusely apologizing to Marianne and her reply was “ I am just happy that Tom made friends so quickly”!!!

    Tom had no trouble making friends. He was truly a “Guy’s guy”. As loyal a friend as you could find. Regrettably The last time I saw Tom was 30 years or more ago. RIP old friend.

    • Joanne Connon says:

      Kevin,

      Thanks so much for leaving a comment. It was important to me that Tom’s friends from the neighborhood knew that he had passed away but I wasn’t sure how to contact you. We enjoyed reading the story you posted.

      Joanne

  5. Thomas Lawlor says:

    I worked off and on with Tom for about 20 years, and you are right, he was the best. He was funny and quirky. I have great stories about, and memories with Tom.

    Thomas Lawlor

  6. Terrence Martin says:

    I was a member of the Westhill Class of 74 with Tom.

    I became friends with him my senior year as a result of sitting next to him in my political science class, where I first got to see him at his eloquent best. As we remembered him today via our class’s Facebook page, everyone remarked at how beautiful this obituary was, and how consistent Tom’s traits as an adult were with those of the Tom we knew back in high school.

    If you go to the Facebook page, “Westhill High School Class of 1974”, you can see additional postings from Tom’s classmates.

    Here’s the best line from his obit that I can personally attest to-“His friend Brian said that Tom tried to present himself as an “average Joe,” but that he had trouble pulling this off because his elevated vocabulary and wordsmith skills gave him away.”

    May he rest in peace.

    Terrence and Laura Martin

    • Joanne Connon says:

      Thank you so much for your post here and on the Westhill High School Class of 1974 page. We got a kick out Tom’s comments in your yearbook. You gave us all a good laugh which is much appreciated.

      Tom’s family.

  7. Phil DelMazio says:

    Tom and I were classmates at Westhill High School in Stamford. His amazing sense of humor and comedic expressions are being remembered. My condolences to the family. Phil DelMazio

  8. Mary Bacon says:

    Tom was my friend. We did Electrolux together and attended Grace EFC. I will miss him but will see him again in heaven!

  9. Terry St Gelais says:

    Nancy & Bill – Roger & I were so sorry to hear about Tom. Although we never had the pleasure of meeting him, we used to see him every Sunday at mass with Bill.
    Keeping you and your family in our prayers.

    Terry & Roger St Gelais

  10. James McClintock says:

    To Tom’s family I would like to add my condolences. I will always remember fondly the times Tom and I worked together and the conversations we had in the off times and social occasions.

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