Thomas Joseph Raftery VII
February 23, 1943 – June 3, 2020
While the passing of Thomas Joseph Raftery, VII, 77, on June 3rd, 2020, in Chatham, MA was unexpected, the countless lives he touched were not. If you were fortunate enough to know “Tom”, you at least once were the recipient of his generosity or expertise, or the beneficiary of his encouragement to forge deeper professional and personal connections between people across the planet. You probably were also gifted a gadget you never knew you needed or delivered an itinerary for a destination you never knew existed. You most certainly were part of a tale to tell; collectively these stories created an infinite library of Tom’s memories to be shared by all those who honored, admired and adored him. The son of Thomas Joseph Raftery, VI, and Edna May Conner, Thomas Joseph Raftery, VII was born in Worcester, MA in 1943. He attended South High School, where he captained the tennis team, his first foray into playing and organizing a sport with passion. Tom married Janet Ann Robinson in June 1966, and graduated summa cum laude from the University of Massachusetts, in Amherst, MA, in 1967. Later that summer he enrolled in Officer’s Candidate School in Newport, RI. Tom was commended with the Reserve Officers Association Leadership Award, having been selected for demonstrating to the highest degree the elements of effective leadership, personal example, good management practices and moral responsibility. This theme was the compass of Tom’s entire life, ensuring that fun and adventure abundantly flowed in tandem. In August 1968 Tom reported for active duty at the Naval Station in Long Beach, California, and served aboard the USS Truxton (DLG(N) 35). He played a pivotal role as Tactical Data Systems Officer while at sea in Vietnam and completed his tour as a decorated Lieutenant with the National Defense Service Medal and Vietnam Service Medal. Steadfast in his service to our country, Tom continued to serve in the US Naval Reserves beginning in 1970 for twenty years. As Lieutenant Commander of the Mobile Inshore Underwater Unit 201, under his own initiative Tom developed a computerized war gaming simulation system to ensure safer training, and often instructed summer courses at the Naval War College in Newport, RI. Tom was awarded the Twice a Citizen Award for his efforts in heading up a counseling program that resulted in the highest retention and re-enlistment of Petty Officers during his tenure. Supervising several onshore and offshore mobilization units for two decades, Tom completed his tenure with the rank of Captain in his honorable service. While in uniform on weekends, Tom honed his computer acumen as an employee of the Honeywell Corporation during the weekdays. On multiple scholarships he attended Boston’s Suffolk Law School in the evenings, graduated Magna Cum Laude, and spoke as Valedictorian of the Class of 1974. Although evenings were dedicated to law classes and a gregarious study session or two, “Dad” always professed Saturday as “Family Day”, which often began with unwieldly stacks of banana pancakes or sausages by Bunsen burner on a pre-dawn outing to Plum Island. Tom cherished seasonal adventures with his family and their friends, among them skiing in the NH White Mountains and sailing aboard his beloved boat, Earendil, out of Buzzards Bay in Marion, MA. Specializing in commercial law, bankruptcy reorganization and financing, Tom established himself as an accomplished, trusted attorney among several prominent firms in Boston. After years of making friends on the daily train from Concord, MA to North Station, Tom started his own legal practice out of his home in Carlisle, MA. Licensed in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire, Tom earned the respect of multiple Chief Justices on both sides of the border. Motoring between legal jurisdictions wasn’t the only running Tom did; upon turning 50, Tom completed The Boston Marathon, celebrating its 100th year Anniversary. Tom loved raising his family in Carlisle and was active in civic and community affairs. An 18-year member of the Planning Board, he also served a stint on the Board of Selectman and brought order, common sense and good-natured humor to his role in his terms as Town Moderator. Always looking for ways to share his resources with his neighbors, Tom enlisted his fellow Naval Seabees to help erect the original Carlisle Castle Playground, and later was active in the Carlisle Land Trust and Carlisle Conservation Foundation. Renowned for his dry wit and infamous doodling on the back of a legal pad, Tom was the artist behind Carlisle Capers, a cartoon strip he drew for the Carlisle Gazette, now circulating as the Carlisle Mosquito. This 40-year endeavor of creativity exemplified his connection to and care for Carlisle; he continued his submissions even after he and Janet, moved to the Cape, up until the day before his passing. A move to Chatham, MA, offered Tom an opportunity to continue his practice and be instrumental as legal counsel to the Board of Cape Air. While Tom helped build a business in the sky, he continued to cultivate lasting friendships upon both the ground and his beloved sea. These relationships were the origins of many adventures, highlighted by driving Jeeps across South America, skiing in the Pyrenees Mountains of Andorra, and navigating the locks on river cruises in the South of France. When Tom was not on a voyage, he was just as content toying with a new piece of technology or trying out a new recipe; texting his daughters or walking their dogs. A bibliophile with a penchant for history, Tom reveled in research and the conversations they would inspire. Always devoted to creating harmony on a larger scale, Tom worked with Cape Mediation, and enjoyed the camaraderie of his fellow mediators as much as when they were in a conference room or in a kayak on a Cape inlet. As a Board Member, Tom enjoyed helping to steer Cape Abilities, an organization dedicated to service and support of individuals with disabilities across Cape Cod. While many reaped the benefits from Tom’s presence in a legal court, so too, did those on a tennis or platform one. From volunteering for the Acton Indoor Tennis Association’s annual “bubble drop” to organizing tournament brackets and prizes for a tournament run at the American Bankruptcy Institute’s Annual Conference every July, Tom never stopped hosting events for friends old and new. Tom’s devotion to his “Camp Moonpenny” tennis group in Chatham defined not only his enthusiasm for tennis, but his love for this morning fraternity. Tom discovered the joys of platform tennis and was just recently elected a Governor of the Chatham Platform Tennis Association. Of all Tom’s journeys, his most cherished time was spent traveling in Europe with Janet, and the moments they spent with other couples sharing laughs, a good meal, and a glass of wine. In 2013, committed to honor the legacy of a best friend, Tom spent several weeks walking the route of El Camino from France to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. “Senor Tomas” became an unofficial ambassador of this life-changing sojourn, offering his trip guidance across social media platforms, in Cape Cod libraries and at the Cape’s L.L. Bean. Tom’s love of walking and talking inspired him to traverse the Scottish Highlands in 2017, of which he would reminisce often blaring the ballads of “The Corries” from his Alexa in the kitchen. Travels and treks embodied the spirit of one of Tom’s fondly referred to quotes, “There are good ships and wood ships, ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships, may they always be”. Tom built the harbor of a lifetime, both sheltering and launching all those he encountered in his path. In addition to Janet, whom he asked out on a date in front of a Cape Cod miniature golf course 54 years ago this June, he is survived by his adoring daughters Kathleen Erickson of Acton, MA; Karen Raftery of Sudbury, MA; and Kristen Raftery Mooney of Stowe, VT. Tom will also be remembered by sons-in-law Alan Erickson and Craig Mooney, and brother-in-law, John Robinson. The biggest source of his pride and joy, always sparking a twinkle in Tom’s eye were his Grandchildren, Jake and Matthew Erickson, Mack Bowen and Milly Mooney. Tom was pre-deceased by his brother, Terrance Francis Raftery in 2012. Tom was unwaveringly protective of his friends, thus in light of the current climate, a private family service will be held now, with a welcoming Celebration of Life planned for the summer of 2021. As an expression of sympathy, memorial contributions may be made to Cape Abilities, www.capeabilities.org, an organization close to Tom’s head and heart.
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Thomas Joseph Raftery VII
June 12, 2020
Though I had only met him this year, I was so impressed with him, his boundless enthusiasm and his willingness to jump right in.
I am so very sorry to hear of his passing.
June 11, 2020
Janet, Karen and the whole Raftery Clan:
Alyson and I just learned of Tom's passing and are extremely saddened by the news. We remember all the great time we had way back when. Tom was also a wonderful friend and mentor to me in my younger years. He was definitely one of the "good" guys in life. We both want to express our sadness and condolences to the family and will be thinking of all of you.
Barton & Alyson Hyte
June 10, 2020
I had the privilege of being the Commanding Officer of the Inshore Undersea Warfare unit that Tom joined in the early 1970s. I was impressed with his technical skills, his friendliness and willingness to go "that extra mile" to complete our missions. That last factor was particularly important to our IUW unit because, unlike other Naval Reserve units who drilled at Naval Reserve Centers, our unit reported each month to a former WWII harbor defense facility on Deer Island in Boston Harbor. The underground concrete bunker was unmanned at all other times, so our crew members were forced to be imaginative and energetic to provide utilities and eating arrangements for nearly 100 men with resources not available through normal Government sources. Many men volunteered to keep this unusual partnership between Public and Private sectors in operation. Tom was among this select group. I am happy to say that some of the Officers still get together in person and by email as recently as last month. ( That meeting was on Zoom and was set up by, of course, Tom.)
When my tour as Commanding Officer was over, I was honored and deeply affected when, at my farewell gathering, I was presented with a handsome plaque containing a barometer and ship's clock. An engraved attached plate displayed a quote selected by Tom to note the occasion. It was a statement by Calvin Coolidge and read:
"No man was ever honored for what he gave; honor has been the reward for what he gave."
In my mind, that statement applies equally as well to Captain Thomas Joseph Raftery VII and , so now, some forty three years later, I would like to bestow it upon him.
Smooth sailing and following winds, Tom.
June 10, 2020
Tom had the best stories and I loved his doodles. He always had a drawing of something. I am honored to have had him perform my wedding ceremony. I knew when I asked him he would make it special and I was not disappointed. My family still talks about how much fun he made it.
June 9, 2020
I will very much miss Tom. As a fellow bankruptcy attorney I had worked with Tom over many decades, but more importantly I had the pleasure of his company at innumerable conferences, especially the one each July at which Tom, Nina Parker, Judge and Mrs. Queenan, and I began a tennis tournament years ago. I believe the hour of drinks following the matches were actually the highlight of the conference.
June 9, 2020
Tom was a fellow Pilgrim of the Camino de Santiago. Although I never had the privilege of hiking with him there, we randomly met one day several years ago on the Cape Cod Rail Trail where he was training for his next trek. We shared our Camino stories that day. Some time later, he invited me to share my Camino story with a large group of people wanting to learn more about the journey. It was quite interesting. I never saw Tom again after that, but we became Facebook friends and shared some similar views on things. His humor was unique and enjoyable. Will miss reading his posts and comments, and travel stories.
My sincerest condolences to his family. May he Rest In Peace.
June 9, 2020
When Tom first walked in to my office in Orleans he exuded that air of warmth and confidence. I felt this was a special person ! Then he introduced himself with that friendly smile and a lasting friendship ensued. Tom helped me hone my computer and life relationship skills. Anyone who knew Tom quickly realized his depth of knowledge and his storytelling abilities. I was honored to be invited to his Chatham home and meet his lovely wife Janet. My condolences go out to Janet and the family. Tom is now on his next heavenly adventure. Your friend, Dr. Paul Ciaccio
June 9, 2020
I knew Tom through Cape Mediation and wish I had more occasions to share in his inspiring life. The combination of competence, empathy and humor made him an excellent mediator and leader. My sympathies for your loss. He will be missed.
June 8, 2020
I remember when Tom sold his home in Carlisle and transitioned fully to Cape life. In a testament to Tom’s obit, I was the beneficiary of a beautiful kitchen table, matching buffet/serving table, and wicker bedroom set. To say that Tom was a generous man, is an understatement. In addition to being very generous with furniture, Tom was happy to provide sage advice. I’ll miss our conversations and sharing jokes via email. He will be greatly missed.
June 8, 2020
I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Tom in the past year or so on the CapeAbilities Board. Recently, he was our Zoom expert for Finance Committee meetings and I, for sure, needed his expert help. Tom would change his Zoom background for each meeting and share where the photo came from. His love for travel came through. I found myself looking forward to the next meeting just to learn of Tom’ s travels!
I wish Tom’s wife and family all the comfort of God’s love and May they keep their fondest memories always close to their hearts.
Rest In Peace Tom.
June 6, 2020
What gave Tom the greatest satisfaction in life (other than his friends and family, of course) was helping others in their time of need. At Cape Abilities, he brought decades of financial, legal and business expertise to the table. His focus was improving the health and well-being of people with special needs, including our son Mike. Our family is deeply grateful to him. Tom cared about the most vulnerable people in our community. He never missed Cape Abilities' Harbor Walk in the spring. He enjoyed greeting participants at the holiday party. He relished learning about all aspects of the program.
Tom and I met decades ago because he was a leader in the corporate reorganization/bankruptcy bar in Boston and nationally. For struggling business owners with complex financial problems, Tom was a problem-solver. He liked nothing more than delving into uncharted legal territory and fashioning a solution that met the needs of all parties. Finding common ground was his forte. In the courtroom he was a powerful advocate for his clients. Deeply ethical and gentlemanly, he set a standard of conduct for younger lawyers. He treated everyone with respect. Tom served on the Boston Bar Pro bono panel representing consumer debtors whose lawyers had been disbarred. Most faced foreclosure. Many were recent immigrants. Tom picked up the pieces of the financial lives of these families; he helped put them back together. He negotiated good solutions.
Tom cared about people; he made a positive difference in their lives. Tom's commitment to social justice was reflected in his work, his politics and his involvement in Cape Abilities and other community organizations.
Listing Tom's professional accomplishments would take volumes . He was self-effacing, so you'd never know.
He loved to laugh. The wry humor of his cartoons of Boston Bar seminars - priceless. His humor was kind, gentle, silly.
I will miss him very much.
June 6, 2020
On behalf of myself and the Board of CapeAbilities I want to extend the deepest sympathy for your loss. It is our loss as well. He was such a wonderful, kind, thoughtful and dedicated member of the
Board as well as friend. We are blessed to have had him in our lives and in our memories going forward. His service will be a guiding light in all we do!
June 5, 2020
Tom was my bankruptcy attorney but he was also my friend. He helped me many years ago and we actually had a lot of fun. He even told me that when he lectured, he talked about my case.
Jan and family, I am so sorry for this sudden loss. I imagine Tom is in heaven giving advice and being the helpful, kind, big-hearted man that he has always been.
Sending hugs as you progress along the grieving journey.