Thomas J. O’Rourke
After 81 years of what he called a great life, Tom died peacefully at home on March 10, 2020.
Tom was a proud native of Chicago’s southside born to his loving parents, Thomas and Ann O’Rourke. He graduated Leo Catholic High School and earned an athletic scholarship to the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota later completing graduate work at Syracuse and Harvard Universities.
While Tom was known for his intense competitiveness and fiery temper, he was admired for his fierce loyalty and selfless generosity. Humor and borderline irreverence were trademark attributes experienced by the many people swept up in his adventures. He was focused, intense and told hard truths but did so with compassion, earning him appreciation and often affection from others.
In college, Tom was a three-year starter as a shooting guard earning conference honors and named to the All-Midwest Catholic College Basketball Team. He was four year starting first baseman batting clean-up, leading the team in hitting for three years and batting .510 his senior year. After a brief stint in the St. Louis Cardinals’ minor league, he embarked on a successful career, including management positions at American Express, Manufacturer’s Hanover and Carte Blanche before eventually retiring as the Senior Vice-President of Marketing at The CIT Group.
After college, Tom met his wife Laura (Eckes) who he adored throughout their 56 years of marriage. As an only child, he fully embraced her large Minnesota family who, in turn, embraced him whole heartedly. Over the years, Laura and Tom moved from the Midwest to New Jersey and traveled the world.
Tom loved his community of Summit where he resided for 47 years and embraced a range of opportunities to participate in its betterment. He was especially proud of his work as President of both Summit’s Board of Recreation and later Summit’s Board of Education as well as Chairman of the American Red Cross Chapter in Summit and a Finance Committee member at St.Teresa’s Church. He served on multiple municipal committees and was honored with Summit’s first “Outstanding Volunteer Service Award” in 2018. More than these recognitions, Tom enjoyed mentoring young men and women in the early stages of their careers. Tom was a caring friend who tended his many friendships from high school through the “Gentleman’s Book Club” he started after retirement.
Tom’s love of athletics extended throughout his life; he coached ten years of American Legion baseball, ran six marathons, maintained a single digit golf handicap and became a devotee (though not necessarily an expert) of any sport his grandchildren played. His competitiveness extended to his coaching and spectating with a particularly memorable moment at the age of 73 when he vowed to never incur another penalty at a sporting event.
Tom was an authentic and complete ‘girl dad’ supporting his daughters, Molly and Julie, in everything they did while ensuring they were accountable for learning life’s lessons along the way. His devotion of family naturally extended to his sons-in-law, Alex Baldwin (Molly) and Will Hudkins (Julie).
Most notable, Tom was unabashed in his devotion to his four grandchildren, Tommy and Allison (Baldwin) and Wesley and Lucas (Hudkins). He was their champion in all matters great and small, siding with them at every turn while also nurturing their good character and providing them a true role model of loyalty and integrity.
As a final act of goodness, Tom donated his body to RWJMS for medical training. There will be a memorial service to celebrate Tom’s life with notices sent once a date is established. In lieu of flowers or donations, please honor Tom by engaging in a simple act of kindness.