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Thomas J. Callaghan

January 31, 1927 ~ September 12, 2021 (age 94)

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Thomas J. Callaghan, a 53-year resident of Canton, passed away on September 12th at the age of 94. 

Born in Boston, Tom enlisted in the Navy (using his brother’s papers) at age 16 in 1943 and fought in World War II, mainly in the South Pacific. After World War II, he enlisted in the Marine Corps for a four-year stint and served with his brother Paul at Camp Lejeune as drill instructors. 

With the start of the Korean War, Tom was called back and served in the Army. He saw action in Korea as a scout observer in Platoon #279. Tom was decorated with medals and honors that he was proud of, but rarely spoke about. 

Once back in Brighton, Tom was introduced to Gladys Keenan by Tom’s brother Paul’s wife Virginia, who had graduated high school with Gladys. They would marry in 1955. Tom and Gladys were married 66 years and were each other’s rock and best friend. 

In 1954, Tom began working for the Boston Fire Department and stayed there until his mandatory retirement in 1992. Tom won many awards for bravery and was seriously injured several times fighting fires. His bravery was an inspiration to his family and everyone that knew him. 

Tom carried a second job much of his working career so Gladys could stay at home and raise their six children. Often this was done with little sleep. Despite this, Tom always was out throwing a ball around, playing games and supporting his wife and children the best way he knew how. Tom continued this energy while playing with his grandchildren. 

After living in Brighton his first years of marriage, Tom saw an opportunity to better his families’ living situation, building a home in Canton in 1968. Both Tom and Gladys had never lived outside the city and had even heard of Canton. Despite the discontinued promised extension of Route 95 which would have made his commute to Boston a breeze, Tom and Gladys quickly fell in love with Canton and became pillars of the community. 

In retirement, Tom’s dedication to the Catholic Church was a big part of his life. Tom and Gladys were very active parishioners of St. Johns Church in Canton. They were able to take several wonderful trips as a couple, including trips to Ireland, Italy, The Holy Land and Bermuda. 

Tom always prided himself with keeping in very good physical condition. Early in his married life, he was an avid handball player and often took on players much younger than himself. He found Tennis in the early 1970’s, only to find that everyone else had as well. Courts were tough to come by. Tom compensated by becoming a runner. Until heart issues plagued him later in life, Tom was an avid runner who routinely won his age group in local races. When it was too cold or icy to run outside, he would jump rope in the garage, anything to get that heart rate up. Tom routinely walked miles a day into his early nineties and always enjoyed lifting weights. His dedication to body and fitness was remarkable to all that knew him. 

Tom is survived by his wife Gladys and six children. Michael of Quincy, David and his wife Bette of Foxboro, Tom and his wife Haydie of Medford, Grace and her husband Anthony Cardella of Stoughton, Steve and his wife Jill of Chelmsford and Jim and his wife Kristi of Sutton. Tom is also survived by his sister-in-law, Elaine and her husband Lawney Crudup of Pembroke whom he raised as his own. Tom is additionally survived by eight grandchildren and one great grandchild and many nieces and nephews who all referred to him as “Papa.”

Tom is also survived by his dear brother Paul and his wife Virginia of Canton. He is predeceased by his other siblings John, Helen, Bill, Mary, and Edmund. 

Tom spent his last few months at Cornerstones of Canton after living on Patriots Drive in Canton for 53 years. The Patriots Drive home was a source of love, strength and gathering for over five decades. 

Tom’s life was based on family, faith, decency and extreme modesty and practicality. His lessons and example will never be forgotten. 

Services will be private due to Covid restrictions and regulations. A public celebration of his life will be celebrated at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his name to Friends of the Unborn of Quincy (P.O. Box 692246, Quincy, MA 02269) and the Stoughton Food Pantry (116 Seaver Street, Stoughton, MA 02072). 


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