Thomas Alfred Flaherty
Prominent Norwalk Attorney
Attorney Thomas Alfred Flaherty died peacefully age 92 on Monday, March 7th at Norwalk Hospital, with his sons and sister by his side.
Mr. Flaherty was the husband of the late Marianne Helene Iris (Ruehle) Flaherty, an award-winning artist and talented athlete and musician, who predeceased him in 1995. Tom met Marianne soon after she emigrated to America from Germany. She loved to say he got her “right off the boat” before she knew better, but he knew a good thing when he saw it. Mr. Flaherty is survived by his sons, John A. Flaherty of Norwalk, his wife Colleen Burke, their daughters Nora Flaherty and Maeve Flaherty, and Dr. Francis T. Flaherty of Ridgefield, his wife Thoa Flaherty, and their sons Liam Flaherty and Aidan Flaherty. Mr. Flaherty was predeceased in 1981 by his loving daughter Karen Diane Flaherty, who was in his thoughts every day.
Mr. Flaherty is also survived by his long-time partner Mary Pat Cottrell of Norwalk, with whom he shared more than 25 wonderful years, and his sisters, Phyllis Van Deventer of Summit, New Jersey and Mary Ellen Flaherty-Ludwig of Norwalk. He was predeceased by his sister, Catherine Reischer of Norwalk, and his brother, Patrick Flaherty of Las Vegas.
Mr. Flaherty was born on July 29, 1929 in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Harry F. and Helen R. Flaherty. During childhood, Mr. Flaherty’s family lived for brief periods in Chicago, Brooklyn, Wilton and Georgetown, before moving to Orchard Street in Norwalk, where his parents operated various restaurants and concession stands. The Great Depression and War years (1930-1945) were difficult times, particularly in the relatively poor Orchard Street neighborhood; from age 11 onward, Mr. Flaherty earned money delivering newspapers, shining shoes, passing out circulars, caddying, serving as a bowling alley pin-boy and similar work. The Orchard Street neighborhood was anchored on one end by St. Mary’s Church, and on the other end, importantly, by the YMCA, where Mr. Flaherty spent his teenage years swimming and playing basketball, ping pong (he was the YMCA champion ping pong player), and cards with the Callahans, Zullos, Cioffis, Tierneys, Hurleys, Foys, Millers and McQuillans, among others. Several friends from the “Y” became at one time or another Mr. Flaherty’s law partners.
Mr. Flaherty graduated from St. Mary’s School in 1943, Fairfield College Preparatory School in 1947 and Fairfield University in 1951. He was an avid Fairfield Stags basketball fan, holding season tickets for many years, and then watching all of the Stags’ games on TV or his IPad when he could no longer attend in person. From 1951 to 1953, Mr. Flaherty served in the US Army, stationed in West Germany. Whenever he had leave, Mr. Flaherty took the opportunity to travel to the great cities of Europe, sometimes in the company of his cousin, Candace Hines of Norwalk (a civilian serving in Army Special Services). While in the service, Mr. Flaherty applied to Columbia Law School, graduating with the Class of 1956.
Following graduation from Columbia Law School, Mr. Flaherty briefly worked at the firm of Slavitt & Connery in Norwalk. However, he soon jumped at the opportunity to open his own legal practice in partnership with his life-long friends, Robert J. Callahan (future Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court) and Eugene Callahan (future Assistant State’s Attorney) located above the Callahan family plumbing shop. The combination of plumbing and law proved fortuitous and the firm of Callahan & Flaherty prospered. Later, they joined with Frank Zullo and Thomas Tierney (and subsequently at different times Lawrence Hauser, Nicholas Cioffi and Frank Murphy) to form the firm now known as Tierney, Zullo, Flaherty and Murphy, which was generally considered the best firm in Norwalk. During his 50-year legal career, Mr. Flaherty represented many major local businesses and developers. His long-term representation of Stew Leonard’s Dairy (for more than 45 years) and Charles Staack & Sons Builders was built upon life-long friendships. He also represented Merritt 7 Corporate Park (Albert D. Phelps) and The Norwalk Hospital for many years.
Mr. Flaherty was actively involved in the City of Norwalk. He previously served as Norwalk’s Corporation Counsel (1965 to 1968) and as a member of the Norwalk Fire Commission, the Board of Education, the Redevelopment Agency, the Board of Ethics, the Charter Revision Committee, the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and the Norwalk Catholic Club. He also enjoyed almost 50 years of golf, fun and friendship as a member of the Shorehaven Golf Club and previously served on its Board of Directors.
Mr. Flaherty was proud of his contributions to his beloved hometown of Norwalk. He delighted in the artistic, athletic and educational achievements of his wife, his children and his grandchildren. He was a wonderful husband, father and grandfather, providing a clear example of strength, honesty and integrity, and always ready to lighten a room with a warm (and lengthy) joke. He had the love of his family and the admiration of all who knew him.
Calling hours will be at the Magner Funeral Home, 12 Mott Ave., Norwalk on Friday, March 11th from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. A mass of Christian burial will be held at St. Jerome's Church on 23 Half Mile Rd. on Saturday, March 12th at 10:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Norwalk Hospital Whittingham Cancer Center, 34 Maple Street, Norwalk, CT 06856, or for suicide prevention programming at Positive Directions – The Center for Prevention and Counseling, Inc., 90 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06880.