Thomas Francis Connor
New York City and the West Village lost a break-the-mold political activist and friend last week. Tom Connor was 88 years old when he passed on August 6th, but was still 35 years young, always engaged in life with exuberance and eclat. He was known for his wicked intelligence, quick wit, stunning one-liners and relentless advocacy for progressive social and political causes.
A gay man in times of great challenge and danger, long before society began accepting LBTQ individuals, Tom was a leader in every aspect of his life. After growing up in Long Beach, New York, Tom received his BA from the University of Chicago and MSW from the Adelphi School of Social Work. Throughout his career, Tom was a strong and effective social worker, advocate and executive, working in disparate organizations from Greenwich House to the Juvenile Services Unit of the Legal Aid Society to the Hackensack University Medical Center. Tom’s expertise was always focused on the underserved, whether as a champion for neglected and abused children, drug addicts, individuals with mental illnesses or seniors.
An ardent believer in the power of civic participation, Tom was a beloved and outspoken participant of Manhattan’s Community Board 2, Village Independent Democrats and the Jim Owles Liberal Democrats Club. During his tenure at CB2, Tom never shied away from conflict and was known for voting against any decision he deemed unjust or ill-informed.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who represents a large portion of lower Manhattan wrote, “I am greatly saddened at the news of Tom Connor’s passing. Tom has been a passionate, driven community leader and member of @villagedems for as long as I’ve known him. I’m proud to have known him and seen his relentless advocacy for seniors firsthand.”
As a fervent gay activist and member of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, Allen Roskoff, its president, observed, “Part of Tom’s legacy is that he was openly gay at an early age when few people were. And he stood up for his and the community’s rights always. He was a solid progressive and he deserved to be called one. I am certain that our members will miss Tom.”
At the Greenwich House Center on the Square he served as the Advisory Council President for 15 years, also acting as the Chair of numerous committees, where his leadership involved day-to-day operations from field trips to advocacy and meals. Laura Marceca, director of the Center remembered Tom as a “pioneer,” never afraid to initiate action and assist with challenges.
Beyond his community and political engagement, Tom was a dear friend and kept in close contact with a diverse group who meant a great deal to him. His friendship is irreplaceable, and was deeply valued by many. Tom Connor is survived by his brother Robert and wife Lynn, his nephew Ken, wife Lisa and daughter Emily, his nephew Rob and his niece Melissa, her husband Mustafa and daughters Layla and Yasmeen, as well as thousands of Village residents who will benefit far into the future from his immense advocacy. In fact, as Lois Rakoff, a fellow VID’er and CB2 member noted, “It’s hard to think of the Village without Tom.”
In memory of Tom and his love of the Center on the Square, his family requests donations be made to the Tom Connor Activities Fund at Greenwich House: