FROM THE TOWN ADMINSTRATOR’S DESK
By Gregory T. Federspiel
It was standing room only at the Selectmen’s meeting on May 7th as well wishers crowded into Room 5 at Town Hall to say thank you to Tom Kehoe as he participated in his last Board meeting as a Selectman. (There is little doubt this was not the last meeting Tom will attend!) Residents, town staff, friends and family as well as our legislative delegation were all present to extend Tom best wishes as he retires from the Board after 12 years of service.
Comments from those in attendance focused on a few recurring themes: Tom’s dedication to Manchester is second to none. In addition to his years as a selectman, Tom was a call firefighter for some 40 years, served as an elected member of the Planning Board, and volunteered on a number of other committees. Tom’s commitment to scouting easily matches his town work. Many venture to say that Manchester has one of the highest numbers of Eagle Scouts per capita in the country and Tom gets much of the credit for this. Tom truly cares for people and always conducts himself as a gentleman. Examples abound of Tom taking the time to listen to concerns residents have had and, even if someone disagreed with Tom, they never found him to be disagreeable.
In presenting Tom citations form the Governor’s Office, the House of Representatives and the State Senate, Representative Brad Hill and Senator Bruce Tarr amplified the themes of statesmanship, civic engagement and friendship. Just imagine, they suggested, the world we would have if everyone gave the same level of civic service as Mr. Kehoe. Making a difference in our corner of the world for the good of our fellow citizens is a laudable act for all of us to emulate.
Of course, no honoring of such a public figure as Tom would be complete without a few good-natured jabs. There were references to the ever present highlighter and legal pad, the challenge of keeping this retired teacher from thinking that he always had a 50 minute time slot to deliver his message, and the not so dainty bear hugs that this not so petit man could deliver.
In thanking the many well-wishers who attended, an emotional Mr. Kehoe wanted to be sure to acknowledge those who instilled in him a passion for public service. He recalled catching the “civic bug” from attending his first Town Meeting back in 1969. And over the many years of serving on various committees and boards, Tom noted the great colleagues with whom he was fortunate to serve.
It was an inspiring send off and an affirmation of the contributions one individual can make. With Town elections slated for Tuesday, it is a strong reminder to us all to carve out time to participate in the civic affairs of our community. Do your part – our democracy depends on it.