Tom Mahoney Jr. remembered fondly
FAIRMONT — Those who knew Thomas Mahoney Jr. remember a man who was an avid outdoorsman, a dedicated bicyclist, a purveyor of local history, a diehard Minnesota Gophers fan and a public servant dedicated to his community.
Mahoney died June 24 at Our lady of Peace Hospice in St. Paul at the age of 67. A private funeral service was held this week at St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Fairmont.
His children, Mat Mahoney of Fairmont and Melissa Leick of Apple Valley, recall many camping trips, bicycle rides and other outdoor adventures with their father.
“He probably knew every dirt road in Martin County because he road his bike on every dirt road in Martin County,” Leick said.
His bicycle, complete with a layer of rural Minnesota dust, was displayed during his visitation at Lakeview Funeral Home.
Mat Mahoney credits his father’s reputation of being a jokester with being raised with six siblings.
“He always had a good sense of humor,” he said. “One thing people probably didn’t know about him was that he was really into magic tricks and used that to play jokes on people.”
Mahoney inspired a strong work ethic in his son, telling him, “Work as hard as you can. Put everything you’ve got into what you do.”
But he also made time for fun, especially sharing road trips to Minnesota Gophers games. Because of his health, the last game Mahoney was able to attend was on Oct. 12.
“That’s probably the thing I’m gong to miss, going to the games with him,” Mat Mahoney said. “He was my chauffeur. We’ve been doing that for 15 years. That’s going to be the hardest adjustment for me going forward.”
“He really instilled the importance of family in me,” Leick said. “We, as a Mahoney family, are very tight. We’re connected.”
She sought out a hospice facility with a lenient visitation policy, Our Lady of Peace Hospice in St. Paul, where the elder Mahoney spent the final 20 days of his life.
“I saw him all but three days he was there,” Leick said. “Mat and I were able to be a part of his end of life journey. He had great care, and he wasn’t alone. We were with him every step of the way, and that’s something special I get to keep forever.”
Mahoney’s children had seen their father care for his own parents late in their lives.
“We got to do that for him as well. We got to navigate his journey,” Leick said.
Mahoney had a deep love for the area and its past.
“He was very proud to call Fairmont and Martin County his home,” Leick said. “He knew the city better than many. He knew the history.”
This regard for the past led to Mahoney’s involvement with the Martin County Historical Society, serving on its board of directors for three years and as board president at the time of his death.
“I’ve known Tom for many years,” said Lenny Tvedten, director of the Historical Society. “During that time, I came to understand that he had a keen interest in history and a deep appreciation and knowledge of local history. He truly understood the importance of preserving local history for future generations.
“He would often stay after board meetings, and we would reminisce about local history, such as former restaurants, people and events. He will certainly be missed by our board and staff.”
For the past six years, Mahoney had been serving as District 2 Martin County commissioner.
“He truly cared about the county and about the city of Fairmont,” said Kathy Smith, a fellow commissioner. “He truly cared about all his constituents. He always stood up for them.”
When Smith was elected to the commissioners about two years after Mahoney, he took it upon himself to show her the ropes and protocols of county government, his outgoing nature helping to put her at ease in her new role.
“He had a way of walking into a room, and everybody knew him,” Smith said. “Everybody knew who Tom was, and he knew everybody.”
Scott Higgins, Martin County coordinator, called Mahoney an asset to the commissioners.
“He was very knowledgeable about the county and shared a lot of history about the county with me,” Higgins said. “We had a number of good discussions on matters that came before the board, along with current events happening in our county. From time to time, he would show county memorabilia he had collected over the years.
“We will miss him,” he said.
In addition to his two children and their spouses, Leanna Mahoney of Fairmont and Michael Leick of Apple Valley, Mahoney is survived by five grandchildren, Madysen, Macy and Mitchell Leick and Nevaeh and Amaya Mahoney; four siblings, Susan (Ronnie Babb) Mahoney, Mary Mahoney, Mark (Brooks) Mahoney, Theresa (Ken) Rivers; and several nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Thomas and Patricia Mahoney; brother, Michael Mahoney; and sister, Kathleen Mahoney.