Colonel Thomas Francis Conroy
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VENICE, Fla. -- Surrounded by his loving family, Colonel Thomas Francis Conroy left this life on Nov. 4, 2012, in Venice, Fla.
A proud native of the state of Maine, Tom was born in Portland the son of Irish immigrants Mark Joseph Conroy and Susan McGonagle Conroy. The youngest of five children, the family settled in South Portland where Tom was raised and attended schools graduating from South Portland High School in 1956. During his senior year, Tom met the love of his life Katie Lord. Tom and Katie were married in 1959.
After high school, Tom attended Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield for a postgraduate year. He was always very proud of his football team's success that year as the 1956 MCI squad finished their season undefeated, untied and unscored upon. Tom earned a football scholarship to the University of Connecticut where he started every game during his career earning All East and All Yankee Conference Honors his last three years as a two way end. When he graduated from UConn in 1961, Tom held the record for the most consecutive starts in a career. Tom was always immensely proud of his association with UConn.
Later in life, he earned a master's degree from Clark University in Worcester, Mass.
Following his graduation from UConn, Tom was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Army where he distinguished himself during his 27 year career as an officer. Tom was widely considered 'a soldier's soldier,' a leader of men known for his impeccable integrity, uncommon discipline and uncompromising devotion to 'his troops.'
Serving with the First Infantry Division in Vietnam in 1967 as a company commander, Tom was highly decorated winning a Silver Star for gallantry in action, three Bronze Stars for heroism, an Air Medal, an Army Commendation and two Vietnamese Crosses of Gallantry, one with silver star and one with gold star.
Other highlights of Tom's military career included serving on the DMZ in Korea in the mid-70s, serving as a battalion commander in 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) in the mid-80s and concluding his career serving in
Colonel Thomas Francis Conroy
Europe working with NATO command.
Following his retirement, Tom was able to pursue his many varied interests that were on hold during his career. These included many summers sailing Casco Bay in 'The Magmell,' cruising the back roads of western Maine on his Harley, restoring a lake home in Stoneham, supporting his favorite teams (UConn, Notre Dame, Patriots, and Celtics) and, of course, traveling the country and the world with Katie visiting family and friends.
In the early 90s, Tom was able to fulfill a life-long ambition to work on a western ranch when he volunteered for many years each spring at Bar H Ranch in Soda Springs, Idaho. He loved the people and the culture of that part of the country. Tom certainly had few regrets having lived life to the fullest.
Beyond all these life experiences, Tom was first and foremost, a devoted and loving husband and father. Family was of utmost importance to Tom and he prioritized the importance of family in both his personal and professional life.
He is survived by his beloved wife of 53 years, Karen (Katie) Lord Conroy. Together they raised four children, Mark (Monique) Conroy of Easthampton, Mass., Steven (Anne Marie) Conroy of Amherst, N.H., Kevin (Maria Isabel) Conroy of Tampa, Fla., and Rebecca (Chip) Monzeglio of Glastonbury, Conn. Tom is also survived my two brothers both of South Portland, Joseph (Elizabeth) Conroy and Edward (Maureen) Conroy. He was predeceased by siblings Francis and Marie. Tom's beloved 10 grandchildren include Erin Conroy, Meghan Conroy, Kristina Conroy, Daniel Conroy, Kevin Conroy, Thomas, Emma and Molly Monzeglio, Liam and Isabella Conroy.
Colonel Thomas Conroy will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors. A memorial Mass to celebrate his life will be held on Saturday, Nov. 24, at 11 a.m., in his hometown parish of Holy Cross Church in South Portland Farley Funeral Home in Venice, Fla., is handling the arrangements. To send condolences visit www.farleyfuneralhome.com.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to your local Salvation Army.
Published in Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram on Nov. 15, 2012