Thomas A. McGee
Thomas A. McGee of Oyster Bay died on October 2, 2008, at the age of 73. He will be remembered by family, friends and co-workers. When his family was asked what will people remember about him, the answer was, "His fantastic sense of humor." Mr. McGee shared gentle jokes with everyone, spreading a sense of fun wherever he went.
When told of the passing of Thomas A. McGee, his many co-workers at Anton Community Newspapers were saddened, and then they began remembering him, and all the laughter he brought with him. The staff looked forward to his coming in in the morning because he always had a joke for them. Elise Sainato, accounts receivable manager, said, "He would say, 'Did you ever notice that people die alphabetically.' And he was right, just look at the obits."
His daughter Lorraine remembered the joke. She said he would read the obituaries of the day, and look up and say, 'Did you ever notice people die alphabetically.' "Then he would say, 'well I'm not in there today, so I better get to work.'"
Tom McGee was a gentleman. One of the things that made him so endearing was his love for his wife Sue and his children and grandchildren. "That's what I would have said," Laura Gaffney, a family friend added. "She is blessed and that her children and grandchildren live nearby. And, that was his life, his family. [In his last illness] we just felt he would turn the corner and get better. We all prayed at the church. I guess it was meant to be. I guess God was ready for him," she said.
His family remember him as kind, compassionate, generous, loving, religious, a wonderful husband, spectacular father. Add to that, a fine father-in-law, grandfather, brother, brother-in-law, uncle and friend.
You could really say of Tom McGee that there was ink in his blood. He spent his working career in the newspaper industry. After his honorable discharge from the United States Air Force in Korea, he attended St. John's University and graduated as an accounting major in 1956. He started in the mail room at The New York Times and rose to become the City Circulation Inspector. In 1961 he went to Dow Jones & Company to work in bringing his newspaper experience to become their Regional Circulation Sales Representative covering The Wall Street Journal, Barron's and the National Observer sales outlets. From 1962 to 1965 he was the manager of Young Salesman Programs for the National Observer. From there he went to the New York Daily News where he started in 1965 as their City Circulation Supervisor and worked there in various capacities in the department, rising to their Long Island Circulation Manager in 1991.
He had an illustrious career there, receiving the first ever publisher's award for excellence in 1984. Daily News Publisher James Hoge was quoted in the News as saying of Mr. McGee's contribution to the company, "Was a major factor in increasing the daily circulation, which has recorded the greatest gain since 1982." He was the recipient of many awards including: sales awards from the New York Daily News; a 1987 Humanitarian Award; a Nassau County Citation from former Nassau County Executive Thomas Gulotta; the 1996 Mercury Award from United Way; the Levittown Chamber of Commerce 2000 President's Award, "For his devotion, friendship and untiring efforts throughout the years"; and "Father of the Year", every year since the birth of his first child.
Mr. McGee and his wife of 53 years, Susan, had eight children: Thomas, Lorraine, Susan, Brian, Kenneth, and three now deceased, Mary, Kathleen and Christine. Mr. McGee was the longest lived of his siblings, Bill, Scotty, James, Jane, Pat, Regina, and Anna, who all died before the age of 70.
Retirement was not for Mr. McGee. Mr. McGee first worked with Anton Newspapers as the Director of Circulation and later as an Account Executive in the sales department. Anton Newspapers' publisher Angela Susan Anton said, "We were benefited by his not wanting to retire. He was a great addition to the newspapers, and always an asset to us in representing us to the public. And, he was a delightful person to know."
As an Account Executive, Mr. McGee covered the Town of Oyster Bay and joined the Massapequa, Farmingdale, Levittown and Hicksville Chambers of Commerce. One of them presented him with a plaque for his "25 years of service", and he told Advertising Manager Harriet Heffernan, "I've only been there for about a year!" His year was surely one of enthusiasm and service so while it was an error, it was probably a fitting comment on his contributions.
He retired again, this time, because of health reasons. In retirement he continued on the New York State Circulation Managers Association board of directors; he was the entertainment chair for the annual Bill Baldwin Day Dinner; and a committee member on Walk Away from Drugs, an outreach program.
Mineola-American Editor Joe Rizza remembered one of his jokes. "Tom said, 'You know I used to be a boxer. My knickname was Kid Candle, one blow and I was out.'"
"But," said Harriet Heffernan, "don't only remember the funny stuff, he was a good, compassionate and kind man. The only time I saw him ruffled in the office was when someone else got an ad he was working on, but he would say, 'The important thing is that the company got the ad.'"
Ms. Sainato added, "He was a real gentleman."
Mr. McGee was the loving husband of Susan. He was the father of Thomas (Tracy), Lorraine Fuller (Russell), Susan Grasek (Steve), Brian (Suzanne) and Kenneth (Patricia). He was the cherished grandfather of 12: Thomas, Jeff, Elizabeth, Scott, Stephen, Robert, Stephanie, Kenneth, Michael, Kevin, Molly and Kyle. He is also survived by many nieces, nephews and friends.
Visiting was at the Oyster Bay Funeral Home on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 4 and 5. A Funeral Mass was held at St. Dominic R.C. Chapel on Monday. The Interment was at the Long Island National Cemetery.