By now, you’ve probably heard the sad news that long time Press-Telegram columnist Tom Hennessy passed away this weekend. He was 80.
Though illness had kept Tom out of the public eye for the past few years, he was truly a Long Beach institution during the more than three decades he wrote for the paper. Tom was beloved in our community for his common-sense, humane and witty perspective, and his deep knowledge and love of Long Beach.
Tom was an independent thinker, not bound by partisanship, but always true to his beliefs in core American values—equality, respect, rule of law, and social progress. He wrote with equal skill about the mundane and the profound, drawing attention to happy events in our city and also addressing challenges facing the community. We all know Long Beach is a big city with a small town feel and Tom embodied both of those aspects—a keen journalist with a big city intellect and a friendly neighbor with a huge heart and an endless capacity for story-telling.
Tom was known to be kind and generous in his personal affairs and also raised money for charity, including veterans, impoverished kids, mental health, and environmental causes. You might disagree with what he wrote, but you’d never doubt the sincerity of his intentions and his caring for his country and community.
Tom is survived by his wife, Debbie, his brother, four children, and ten grandchildren, and our thoughts and prayers are with all of them and with his colleagues at the Press-Telegram, who were like a second family.
In honor of his life and career, we will adjourn tomorrow night’s City Council meeting in his memory. We are all lucky to have been able to read his wise words over the years and our whole city will miss his voice.