WATERTOWN, NY — Thomas F. Hanley, 69, formerly of Watertown, of Palm Harbor, FL, passed away on Tuesday, December 26 at Westchester Gardens, Palm Harbor, FL where he was in Hospice care.
Born June 1, 1949 in Syracuse, NY, he was the son of William J. and Catherine Cahill Hanley. A life-long learner, Mr. Hanley was inspired to serve others through his Catholic education beginning at St. Margaret’s Catholic School and then Christian Brothers Academy where he graduated in 1967. He studied Jesuit values in business administration at Le Moyne College where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in 1971. He later completed graduate studies at Dartmouth University’s Graduate School of Credit and Financial Management.
In 2000, as a community representative for the Northern New York-Fort Drum Chapter of the Association of United States Army (AUSA), Mr. Hanley attended the US Army War College National Seminar in Carlisle, PA. In 2007, he completed the Catholic Formation of Ministry and was commissioned a lay minister by the Diocese of Ogdensburg.
On April 17, 1971, he married Mary Anne LaPlante at St. Margaret’s Church in Mattydale, NY with Reverend John Ahern officiating. He was a devoted husband and loving father to three daughters, Christine Marie, Mary Patricia and Elizabeth Anne, and proud grandfather to seven grandchildren.
In 1972, Mr. Hanley began his 23-year banking career at the Bank of New York, Syracuse. As a young banker, he sought excellence and was named a Life Member of the American Institute of Banking, Syracuse Chapter. He was a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow and began his life-long commitment to the Rotary motto, “Service above self.” In 1983, he received the Jaycees Outstanding Young Men of America Award for his community service in Syracuse, which included volunteering with Syracuse Chamber of Commerce, American Lung Association, and St. Charles Borromeo Church and School. He served as the Syracuse Rotary Club President from 1985 to 1986.
In 1986, Mr. Hanley and his family moved to Watertown, NY, where he was Vice President of Norstar, later named Fleet Bank, until 1995. Mr. Hanley immediately joined Watertown Rotary Club and was president from 1993 to 1994. He supported numerous nonprofit boards with his fiscal management expertise and leadership skills. This included the Watertown Chamber of Commerce, for which he was 1988 Chairman of the Year, 1992 Director of the Year, and served as President from 1992 to 1993. For United Way of Jefferson County, Mr. Hanley served on the Board of Directors until 1994 and was Campaign Chair in 1989. From 1991 to 1992, Mr. Hanley served as President of the North Country Affordable Development Inc. and North Country Affordable Housing Inc. Other community leadership roles included: St. Patrick’s Finance Committee; President of 1000 Islands International Bankers’ Association (1991-1992); and Treasurer of Mercy Center for Health Services (1992-1995). He also served in various leadership roles for Catholic Charities of Ogdensburg during this time.
Mr. Hanley’s commitment to PBS programming began as a community volunteer for telethons in Syracuse at WCNY PBS station. Later, he was a member of the board of directors for WNPE-WNPI Public Television in Watertown, NY, serving as Chairman in 1994. Mr. Hanley launched his nonprofit and public broadcasting career as Executive Vice President of WNPE/WNPI in 1995. He was named President and General Manager in 1996. Among his accomplishments in this role, Mr. Hanley increased the local production of national PBS programming and secured the call letters “WPBS” to expand the corporate identity, which served 600,000 viewers in the north country and southeastern Ontario. He regularly advocated to policymakers for PBS funding in collaboration with other New York State Public TV station executives in both Albany and Washington, DC. Under Mr. Hanley, WPBS upgraded its equipment to conform with a government mandate that all TV stations switch from analog broadcasts to the sharper digital broadcasting. Mr. Hanley created community partnerships with SUNY Potsdam, Jefferson Community College, Seaway Trail Foundation Inc., Jeff-Lewis Child Care Council and others to better serve the mission of WPBS-TV. In a 2012 Watertown Daily Times article about his retirement, Mr. Hanley said he is most proud of envisioning and constructing the James W. Wright Community Center, a meeting room at WPBS’s offices that is available for use by any organization at no cost.
Throughout his time with WPBS, Mr. Hanley continued to support other nonprofit and community initiatives. He was Chair of the Watertown Central Business District Revitalization Task Force (1995-1998), President of the Northern New York-Fort Drum Chapter of Association of the United States Army (1998-2000), Chair of the Seaway Trail Foundation (2000-2004), Chair of the Jefferson County Bicentennial Planning Community (2001-2006), and member of the Board of Directors of North Country Council of Social Agencies Board of Directors (2009-2012). Mr. Hanley was a member of the Samaritan Keep Board of Directors (2004-2013), serving as Chair from 2007 to 2012. He also served on the Samaritan Medical Center Board of Directors (2007-2013) and Samaritan Senior Village (2012-2013). He was appointed to the Town of Watertown Zoning Board of Appeals in 2000 and served until 2013 when he moved to Palmetto, FL.
Mr. Hanley lived his faith to the fullest and contributed in many ways to his parish, St. Patrick’s Church, as well as Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Ogdensburg where he served as a Trustee and President. He and his wife, Mary Anne, received the 2013 Presidential Award from Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Ogdensburg. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus Council 259 Watertown and St. Frances Cabrini, 3rd Degree, as well as Knights of Columbus, #699 Bishop Conroy, 4th Degree Assembly and St. Frances Cabrini, Parrish, FL. He was a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in Watertown and was named Hibernian of the Year in 2007.
He showed others he cared in many ways, especially the youth, sick and elderly of his community. Each year, Mr. Hanley played Santa Claus for hundreds of children at Fort Drum. On many Sundays, Mr. Hanley visited the residents of Angel’s Inn Assisted Living Home, prayed with them, and gave them Holy Communion as a St. Patrick’s Eucharistic Minister. A mentor to many, Mr. Hanley was an instructor for the American Institute of Banking in Syracuse (1977-1986), and a lecturer, instructor and adjunct professor for Jefferson Community College (1987-1995) in Watertown.
Mr. Hanley was an avid golfer and enjoyed belonging to Watertown Golf Club, where he served on the Board of Directors. He made many friends as a member of the Watertown Elks Club (BPOE), Italian-American Club of Watertown, and Elks Club of Palmetto, Florida. He was proud of his Irish heritage and served as Grand Marshall of the Watertown St. Patrick’s Day Parade in March 2005. Mr. Hanley and his family treasured the friendships they made with the Arden Courts community of Palm Harbor, FL.
Above all else, Tom was devoted to his family. He is survived by his wife Mary Anne, three daughters and their husbands, Christine and Brian Cisco, Watertown, Mary Pat and Eric King, Palm Harbor, and Elizabeth and Joseph Maurer, Watertown. They have seven grandchildren, Benjamin T., Andrew A., Daniel J., Molly E., Charles T., Mason L., and Jenna B. Also surviving are: four brothers, John “Jack” (Patricia) Hanley, Clay, NY, William (Eileen) Hanley, Fairfax, VA, Edward (Rose) Hanley, Rochester, NY, Daniel (Jeanne) Hanley, Syracuse, NY; two sisters, Mary Kay Scarson and her companion William Wood, Phoenix, NY, and Karen May and her companion Ronald Kingsbury, Phoenix, NY; his beloved brother- and sister-in-law, Oscar and Gayle Fleury, Palmetto, FL; and many cherished nieces and nephews.
Besides his parents, Mr. Hanley is pre-deceased by his father- and mother-in-law, George and Beatrice LaPlante, and his nephew, Michael Fleury.
Calling hours will be 4 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, January 2 at the D.L. Calarco Funeral Home, Inc. A prayer service will be held 9: 15 a.m. at the funeral home with a 10 a.m. funeral mass at St. Patrick’s Church with Reverend Christopher Looby officiating. Burial will be in Glenwood Cemetery immediately following the service.
Contributions may be made in his name to: WPBS Foundation, 1056 Arsenal Street, Watertown, NY 13601; Catholic Charities, 6866 State Highway 37, Ogdensburg, NY 13669; or to Empath Health at the Suncoast Hospice Foundation, 5771 Roosevelt Blvd, Clearwater, FL 33760.
Condolences may be made to www.dlcalarco.com.