By Bryan Marquard, Globe Staff | January 15, 2006
For a guy who loved living in Norwood and never wanted to move away, Thomas E. Connelley Jr. certainly got around.
Wedding ceremony? Ireland. Honeymoon? All over Europe. Vacations? The finer spots of Mexico.
Mr. Connelley, who worked at The Boston Globe as a pressman for 40 years, collapsed at home Friday. An inveterate traveler who always had an eye out for the next trip, he was 67 and had spent the night before he died engaged in his favorite retirement activity, baby-sitting a grandson.
Mr. Connelley grew up in Norwood, where he graduated from high school. Working as a newspaper pressman was the family trade.
”I think he just followed his dad’s footsteps into the family business,” said a daughter, Kathleen Devlin of Foxborough. ”My grandfather worked at the Herald-Traveler” and other newspapers that are no longer around.
The job at the Globe afforded close proximity to one of Mr. Connelley’s other passions.
”If it was a sunny day, he was out on his boat,” Devlin said. ”That’s the beauty of the Dorchester Yacht Club. He would work nights, walk across the street, and get on his boat. And he would take anyone out with him.”
Mr. Connelley met Mary Bernadette Brennan at Moseley’s on the Charles in the late 1950s. He stopped by the landmark Dedham ballroom before going to work. She was there with friends. They danced, and he sought her out the following Sunday at an Irish dance hall on Dudley Street.
”Sometimes I felt I could have danced all night,” Mrs. Connelley said. ”He loved to dance.”
The couple married in Curry, County Sligo, near where she grew up in Ireland.
Raising their four children in Norwood, Mr. Connelley was the family photographer, often encouraging reluctant offspring to pose across the street from the house at what became known as the picture-taking rock. His favorite portrait spot, since removed, was part of Highland Cemetery, where Mr. Connelley will be buried.
Mr. Connelley also loved encouraging birds to visit his yard. He became adept at identifying each species and took care to build predator-proof feeders.
”I can see them, looking out now — ones that the squirrels couldn’t get,” Devlin said. ”I see one, two, three feeders, and they’re all hanging from fishing line. And there’s suet tacked onto the trees.”
The night before he died, Mr. Connelley baby-sat Devlin’s 4-year-old son, Liam, who called his grandfather Papa Tom.
Though he loved his three grandsons, ”I think he got his dying wish six weeks ago,” Devlin said, when Mr. Connelley’s first granddaughter, Emily Stow, was born.
In addition to his wife, daughter, grandson, and granddaughter, Mr. Connelley leaves two sons, Thomas III of Medfield and James of Norwood; another daughter, Anne Stow of Foxborough; a sister, Jean Kelleher of Grand Rapids, Mich.; and two other grandsons.
A funeral Mass will be said at 9 a.m. Tuesday at St. Catherine Church in Norwood.