Thomas Patrick Mulcahy of Butte, Montana | 1932 - 2021 | Obituary

Thomas Patrick Mulcahy



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Funeral Service
Wednesday, Mar 03, 2021

Thomas Patrick Mulcahy

July 29, 1932 - February 23, 2021

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U.S. VeteranThomas Patrick Mulcahy, 88


Tom Mulcahy was born in Butte on July 29, 1932 to Catherine A. Harrington Mulcahy and Maurice J. “Dugga” Mulcahy.


Tom was the classic working-class Butte Irish Catholic Union Democrat, dedicated to sports, religion and doing good things for others, especially those less fortunate. Along with his sister Catherine Alice, and brother Maury, Tom was raised by his father, a fireman, and mother, a nurse, on North Wyoming Street at the corner of Wyoming and Woolman, in the shadow of the railroad bridge to the Steward Mine. The basketball hoop nailed to the bridge and St. Mary’s Catholic Church, which was within shouting distance, represented two anchors to Tom’s full life.

Tom attended St. Mary’s Grade School and graduated from Butte Boys’ Central in 1950, always excelling in athletics. He was inducted three times into the Butte Sports Hall of Fame - in 1993 as an individual and also in 1987 and 1993 as a member of two championship Hall of Fame teams, the 1949 State Champion American Legion baseball team and the 1950 State Champion Butte Central basketball team.


After graduating Butte Central, Tom spent a year playing basketball at Montana State College in Bozeman (now MSU) before entering the Navy. Shortly after entering, he was given a medical discharge after which he began a lifelong connection to Gonzaga University in academics, athletics, coaching and alumni affairs. He was inducted into the Gonzaga Athletic Hall of Fame in 1991 for coaching, baseball and basketball, where he was a 3-year star and captain in both sports. Tom also served on Gonzaga’s Alumni Board and the Gonzaga President’s Council. Upon returning to Gonzaga after his period in professional baseball, Tom was an assistant coach in both baseball and basketball.


His professional baseball life began when he was signed in 1956 by the Pittsburg Pirates. Signing for the Pirates at that ceremony was Bing Crosby, Gonzaga graduate and part owner of the Pirates. That professional contract was the culmination of a decade of amazing baseball played at the Legion level, in the Copper league, in college, and in semi-pro leagues like the Western Canadian League and Mon-Dak League. Tom was a lifetime member of the Association of Professional Baseball Players of America, after playing professionally for the Hollywood Stars, Lincoln and Topeka in the Western League, Spokane Indians and Lewiston in the Northwest League. Tom’s amazing baseball record is chronicled on a special page on the Western Canadian Baseball website. You can visit there by clicking here.


In addition to his Gonzaga degree, Tom also earned degrees from Santa Clara University and the University of California-Berkley. His advanced degrees in theology, sociology and languages served him through his life. He had a particular affinity for language, often surprising family and friends as he fluently slid back and forth between English, Irish and Serbian languages.


Following his graduation from Gonzaga, a Jesuit university, and a period of semi-pro and professional baseball, Tom entered Mount St. Michael’s Seminary in 1957 and following that rigorous path was ordained a Catholic priest of the Jesuit Order in 1968.


In his fifteen years as an active Jesuit, Tom spent time on missions to several Montana Indian Reservations, which were chronicled by a series of Native American paintings Tom did based upon the Edward S. Curtis photographs Tom acquired at that time. He counted being a wonderful artist among his many talents.


Blending sports, religion and academics, Tom also taught and coached football and basketball at Kennedy High School in the Seattle area; taught and coached football, basketball and golf at Jesuit High School in Portland; and, unusually as a priest, was designated an Associate Scout for the San Diego Padres in the Pacific Northwest, starting in 1969.


In Spokane during that period Tom, as a priest, was Director of Student Activities at Gonzaga, but also spent summers as batting practice pitcher for the Spokane Indians, then managed by Baseball Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda, with whom Tom developed a lifelong friendship. Lasorda immortalized their relationship in the story he told to the LA Times in 1984: “You knew Tom used to be a priest, didn’t you”” Lasorda asked. “Father Tom was pitching batting practice for me one day a few years ago and one of the guys on the other team wanted him to hear confession. So he takes the guy down the first base line and hears his confession. What’s the guy do in the game? Bang. One home run. Bang. Two home runs. Bang. Three home runs. I told Father Tom no more confessions before games.”


In 1972 Tom and Shirley Pemerl rekindled a relationship from their undergraduate days at Gonzaga. They were married after he left the priesthood, a marriage of love that would last seventeen years, and their friendship has endured to this day. At that time Tom was called to work in the front office of the San Diego Padres, for whom he had scouted several years.


Living in San Diego and working in the Padres front office for 20 years, Tom developed programs and raised money so that underprivileged youth could attend Padres games. He became deeply involved in community and charitable affairs in San Diego. Naturally, because of his Butte Irish history, Tom was a founder of the Annual San Diego St. Patrick’s Day Parade, founder and Board member of the Irish Congress of Southern California and member-at-large for the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick. He also served on the Governing Board of Mission Valley YMCA, and on the Boards of Directors for the San Diego Muscular Dystrophy Association, the Nice Guys of San Diego (charitable), Old Mission Beach Athletic Club and the Kensington Fund for the Needy. Tom also was founder and fundraiser for the Marine Family Christmas Fund, a task to which he was dedicated to until his passing. Each winter he coordinated a fund-raising golf tournament in Yuma, AZ, to raise money to provide food assistance to active service families in the San Diego area. Tom also was a 60+ year member of the Knights of Columbus.


After ending his twenty years with the Padres, Tom took on restaurateur duties as co-owner of Mulcahy’s San Diego as well as being the host at Bully’s. Many a tall tale was told in those venues, often about Butte, for Tom was always expressing his pride in being from the Mining City. He then retired to his home town, where he lived in Butte’s Finlen Hotel, less than a quarter mile from where he was raised. But he was a snowbird, spending several winter months each year in San Diego working on the Christmas Fund and the last of the twenty-five Tom Mulcahy Invitational Golf Tournaments for charity. You can see a film about the Yuma golf here.


In Butte, Tom was a Board Member of the Friends of the Butte Archives. He was an avid historian, conductor of genealogical research, and an inveterate collector of historical memorabilia of all sorts. As such, he has a large and ever-growing collection in the Butte Archives. In Butte, Tom also coordinated biennial reunions of players from the old Copper League until their numbers dwindled.


Tom collected more than memorabilia. Though in essence a private person, throughout his life he collected friends – friendships that lasted a lifetime. Whether in sports, charitable work, a good golf game or just bending an elbow together, Tom was always the captain, leader, or coordinator. Many of those lifelong friends have preceded his passing and some remain to mourn his loss.


Tom was preceded in death by his father, Maurice Mulcahy; mother, Catherine Harrington Mulcahy; brother, Maury Mulcahy; sister, Catherine Seccomb; uncle, John “The Yank” Harrington; and aunts, Sister Mary Harrington, Rebecca Harrington, and Teresa Blickhan; nephews, Lee and Gary Seccomb; nephew-in-law Jim Britton; grandniece Erin Mailander; grandnephew Joseph Seccomb. Also preceding him in death were sister-in-law Sally Mulcahy, brother-in-law Ernie Seccomb and Mary Seccombe, as well as numerous cousins from the Mulcahy Clan.


He is survived by his friend and former spouse, Shirley Pemerl Mulcahy; nieces and nephews Gail (Evan) Barrett, Sandy (Jim) Regan, Brian Seccomb, Paul (Toni) Seccomb, Dan (Lilia) Seccomb, Margie Seccomb, Pat (Marie) Seccomb, Bob (Lisa) Seccomb, Jay (Kelley) Seccomb, Terri (Paul) Mailander; Karen Mulcahy, Sallyann (Michael) Mulcahy, Connie Mulcahy and Jim (Rose) Mulcahy; grandnephews and nieces Siobhan and Brendan Barrett; Jeff, Beth, Kathleen, and Patrick Regan; Samantha and Kristina Seccomb; Dylan (Kara) Shaw and Morgan (T.J.) McKenzie; Claire Britton; Emma and Anthony Seccomb; Chaz, Cati and Kyle Seccomb; Cheyenne Moulin; Tim, Madelyn, and Nick Seccomb; Kathleen (Casey) Kropp, Margie, Laura and Mark Mailander; Kirsten (Jon) Barrett and Erika Barrett Thompson; Jon Clark Spranget; Caralee and Sean Kelly; Ian Brody, Jonas and Eric McNair; and numerous great-grandnephews and nieces. 


Funeral is scheduled for St. Patrick’s Church on Wednesday, March 3, 2021 at 11:00 A.M. No visitation is scheduled and COVID protocols will be observed including social distancing and face masks. An interment will take place at Holy Cross Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be considered toward the Butte Archives, AnRiRa Irish Festival, ACTION, Inc. or the Butte Emergency Food Bank.



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Funeral Service

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

St. Patrick's Catholic Church
300 W. Mercury St.
Butte, Montana 59701

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