Thomas Shaughnessy

Born in Chicago, Illinois on July 29, 1962

Departed on November 13, 2020 and resided in Nashville, Tn

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Thomas Francis Shaughnessy—a devoted son, brother, and father, loyal friend and veteran Catholic journalist—left on his final assignment on November 13, 2020. At age 58, Tom died in Nashville, Tennessee following a brief illness.

He was born on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois on July 29, 1962, the second of three boys born within three years of each other to Robert Henry Shaughnessy and Patricia Houlihan Shaughnessy—there was never a dull moment in the household. He moved to Nashville with his family in 1974 and graduated from Father Ryan High School in 1980. In 1984, he graduated from the University of Notre Dame, where he studied English, boxed, and issued wry commentary from the porch of Sorin Hall.

He began his journalism career as a reporter for the Tennessee Register, the newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Nashville. Several years later, in 1992, Tom moved to Lexington, Kentucky to serve as Communications Director for the Diocese of Lexington. There his duties included writing for and serving as editor of Crossroads, the diocesan newspaper, which won thirteen awards from the Catholic Press Association during his tenure. In addition, Tom served as the diocesan public information officer and, for a time, hosted a weekly radio show called “Catholic Roundtable.” He also traveled with diocesan groups to Italy, Greece, Ireland, and Israel, and participated in trips to Haiti and Nicaragua to build housing for rural residents there.

He took early retirement in 2018 to move back to Nashville and care for his parents so they could spend their final months in the home they loved. During the past year, Tom worked as a freelancer writing for various Catholic and community publications.

Although many generations removed from the Old Country, Tom was a consummate Irishman and proud of his heritage. His social media handle was “Tomasin O’Seachnaseigh,” the Gaelic version of his name.

He was a dreamer, a storyteller, and a friend to many. He made virtually a second career of serving as a best man and, later, a godfather. He had no tolerance for pomposity and pretension; he managed to resist the craft beer craze. He was a Springsteen fan, naturally.

You can tell a lot about a man by what he reads. When Tom died, his nightstand contained books by Ernest Hemingway, Joyce Carol Oates, Seamus Heaney, and Charles Bukowski. In slightly different circumstances, he would have published a novel or two of his own.

Tom was preceded in death by his parents, Robert Henry Shaughnessy and Patricia Houlihan Shaughnessy. He is survived by his son Maximilian Shaughnessy (Carly) and granddaughters Katheryn, McKenzie and Kailey, of Richmond, Kentucky; his brothers Robert Shaughnessy (Susan) of Washington, D.C., and Christopher Shaughnessy of Lexington, Kentucky; his aunt Mary Ellen Horrell (David) of Dunedin, Florida, and uncle John Houlihan (Mary Jane) of Chicago, Illinois; cousins Kathleen Spayer (Roger) of Sugar Grove, Illinois, David Horrell (Shannon) of Brentwood, Tennessee, and Sean Houlihan (Elizabeth) of Chicago; niece Emma Shaughnessy and nephew Henry Shaughnessy, both of Washington, D.C.; and dear friends Mark and Lauretta DeMille of Nashville and Philip Von Mann of Lexington, and their respective children, who were family to Tom. Tom’s family would also like to express its special gratitude to his friend Teresa Clepper, who gave him valuable support during his illness.

A funeral service and a proper Irish wake will be held after public health restrictions are lifted.

No obituary can do full justice to the life in question. This one falls particularly short. Tom Shaughnessy was a good man. Let us remember him fondly.

13 Comments to Thomas Shaughnessy

  1. Lynda Allen Manon
    November 22, 2020 10:02 am

    Fond memories of a man with quick wit and dry sense of humor. Worked with Tom at Diocese of Lexington. My sincere condolences for your lose.

  2. Don Fulford
    November 22, 2020 1:04 pm

    Tom was a solid man of great wisdom and Irish spirit. I am grateful for my short time with him in Lexington. Rest in peace Tom, you taught many to find the simple beauty in a good book, to enjoy a good laugh every day and never forget where you came from. With gratitude for your kindness and candor in all you did. My condolences to his great family….. be not afraid, he is with you always.

  3. Jo Anne Embleton
    November 22, 2020 11:57 pm

    Sending love and prayers to the Shaughnessy, Houlihan and DeMille families – Tom was the best friend and adopted big brother a girl could ever hope for.

    I hope your slice of heaven has good barbecue, ‘mano, with a a trout-packed stream, books and some Springsteen playing in the background.

  4. Paul W Smith
    November 23, 2020 10:43 am

    Tom and I were both fans of the movie Tombstone. His passing reminds me of this exchange from the movie:

    Turkey Creek Jack Johnson: Why you doin’ this, Doc?
    Doc Holliday: Because Wyatt Earp is my friend.
    Turkey Creek Jack Johnson: Friend? Hell, I got lots of friends.
    Doc Holliday: I do not.

    My point being is I have a lot of friends, but few friendships like the one I shared with Tom. Tom and I rode by train to New Orleans for Mardi Gras where we flirted with girls on parade floats. We traveled to horse tracks together where we startled a jockey by shouting, “You’re the duke, you’re A #1” at him in the winner’s circle after his ride provided us with that evening’s drinking money. There was also a particularly memorable night where we sat on my back porch and watched a thunderstorm roll in while we drank late into the evening and discussed the fate of the world.

    Tom was as good and loyal a friend as anyone could want. I was hoping to have a lot more time with Tom. It saddens me that I won’t. His memory will live on with those of us who loved him and were blessed to share his company.

  5. Amy Lopresti Haftkowycz
    November 23, 2020 1:34 pm

    “We liked the same music, we liked the same bands, we liked the same clothes…”

    My heart and prayers go out to all of Tom’s family and friends. He touched far more lives than his humble spirit allowed him to acknowledge. We were all the lucky ones; our lives have been changed for the better because we knew him. For that, I am eternally grateful. He truly will live on in each one of us.

    “I’m just calling one last time, not to change your mind. But just to say I miss you, baby, good luck….” … but I’ll never say “goodbye”.

    I’ll talk to ya later…

  6. Kent E Hensley
    November 23, 2020 3:02 pm

    Tom was a true American original who left a lasting mark on me. He will be missed by many.

  7. Mary Ellen Houlihan Horrell
    November 23, 2020 3:28 pm

    Tom was not just my nephew but a friend! John Steinbeck wrote, “It is so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.”

    Oh how his light shone! I will miss him so very much!

  8. Licet Gaston
    November 23, 2020 5:03 pm

    My prayers for Tom’s family and friends. I miss him. He enriched my life with his easy friendship. A man whom truly cares about and for others and did not hesitate for one second to show it.

    I know that we miss him (some terribly) but heaven?, heaven is happy to have him and shines a brighter because of him.

  9. Paul Conatzer
    November 23, 2020 5:15 pm

    I only knew Tom through social media and Jo Ann Embleton introduced us. It didn’t take us long to understand we were kindred spirits and both something of a Fenian b***ard. I like to think he is polishing the Heavenly pint glasses, so we can share a pint of the purest Liffey Water and listen to another Irish-Catholic lad in Bruce Springsteen…..May the road rise up to meet you….and we’ll share that pint in the future….

  10. Jeff Hensley
    November 23, 2020 11:35 pm

    Tom was a good friend.

  11. Mark DeMille
    November 24, 2020 12:08 am

    Can’t say enough about Tom
    Life long friend to me and my wife Lauretta, best man at my wedding, godfather to my son Phil and incredible ‘adopted ‘ uncle to my other four children. He would drop anything at the top of a hat to help all of us.. I loved many evenings bantering with him about life subjects, politics etc. He just enjoyed the conversation (although sometimes he was way out of my league with his facts) and was ok to disagree about certain things and still be good friends which is rare. A true blessing in my family’s lives. Dear friend. I will miss you.

  12. Jim and Nancy Langdon
    November 24, 2020 6:14 pm

    Jim and I were neighbors to the Shaughnessy family and also knew the three boys through our years at Father Ryan High School. We so admired the way Tom cared for his parents til they died. He was a special man and an example for us all of the Christian life.

  13. Teresa clepper
    November 24, 2020 7:07 pm

    There is so many things I can say about Tom. I was at his side with his 1st chemo treatment and numerous doctor appt. He was courageous and never lost his sense of humor. He was loyal to his friends and family. He and I shared the love of books, especially Ernest Hemingway. I will miss you Tom , my dear friend. Love.

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