Merchant , Thomas C . of Wakefield April 5.
Tom Merchant , a long-time teacher at Wakefield High School, died suddenly on April 5, 2022, at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital at the age of 88.
Tom was born in East Boston on August 10, 1933, to the late Anne (Doherty) and Thomas Merchant . He spent his early years in East Boston, the beloved only brother of big sister Mary ( Merchant ) Harrigan and younger sister, the late Ann Patricia ( Merchant ) Hurford. He was affectionately known as "Buzzy" to his sisters and parents and "Uncle Bucky" to three generations of nieces and nephews.
Tom and his family moved to Winthrop when he was 11 years old. Since it was mid-year, Tom and his sister Mary took the streetcar from Winthrop to Malden daily to finish out the year at Malden Catholic. Living in Winthrop, Tom and his sisters learned to sail, row, and play tennis. Tom graduated from Winthrop High in 1950, shortly before the family moved to Medford.
After Tom graduated high school, he worked a series of jobs around Winthrop and down the Cape until he enlisted in the Army in 1953. He served in Germany in the 63rd Tank Battalion. While in Europe, he took the opportunity to travel and spent time in Paris.
As he was getting ready to muster out, the corp was inspected by a general. The general singled out Tom, asking him where he was from.
"Where are you from, son?"
"Where in Massachusettes?"
"Where in Medford?"
"Dudley Street, sir!"
"I grew up a block over. If there is anything you need, you come see me."
"I am going home next week, sir. Wish I met you when I first got in, sir!"
After his discharge from the Army in 1961, Tom moved to Colorado. He spent a few years as a ski instructor in the winter, and a ranch hand in the summer. He hiked and camped with friends in the Rockies, sending back photos of his rustic life. He loved Colorado so much that he went to college there, graduating from Western State College in 1969 with a BA. He went on to earn a Master of Education from Salem State College in 1978.
Tom returned to Boston where he found his passion - teaching. He started out working with special needs students at Cardinal Cushing Academy. A couple of years later, he began teaching English at Wakefield High School. He taught at Wakefield until his retirement in 1996.
Tom kept himself busy both before and after retirement. He co-founded the Wakefield Choral Society (1988) and the Wakefield Repertory Theatre (1991) and ran the Adult Education program for over 14 years. He received a special achievement award from the Wakefield Alumni Association in 2009 in recognition of his contributions to Wakefield education.
When he wasn't teaching or serving his community, he played golf. Lots of golf. He even started his own golf club business, The Golf Merchant , in his spare time. In the evenings, when it was too dark to golf, he bartended and, over the years, was a fixture at several local bars. He regaled his family and friends with stories about Bruins players and celebrities he met while bartending.
In the 1980s, Tom had a different adventure. Since the late 1970s, he had been an avid scuba diver who loved to explore New England waters. In the 1980s he and a group of divers that included, Robert Ballard, dove down to see the wreck of the Andrea Doria, the luxury liner that sunk off Nantucket on July 25, 1956. Diving 250 feet down to that shipwreck is quite dangerous and requires a lot of experience. Mr. Ballard would go on to find the wreck of the Titanic a few years later.
Tom always claimed that he was "too busy" to get married, and remained single. He is survived by his older sister, Mary Harrigan of Arlington. His younger sister Ann Patricia Hurford died in 2011. Tom is also survived by two brothers-in-law, John Harrigan of Arlington and Robert Hurford of Reading, and three generations of nieces and nephews.
Visitation for relatives and friends will be held at the McDonald Funeral Home, 19 Yale Ave., Wakefield on Wednesday, April 13 from 4-7 p.m. Funeral Service will be held at St. Joseph Church, 173 Albion St., Wakefield on Thursday, April 14 at 10 a.m.
Tom was active with The Scholarship Foundation for many years. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to The Scholarship Foundation of Wakefield Inc, c/o Thomas C . Merchant Fund, PO Box 321, Wakefield.
Wednesday, April 13
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
McDonald Funeral Home
19 Yale Ave
Wakefield, MA 01880
Thursday, April 14
St. Joseph Church
173 Albion St.
Wakefield, MA 01880