Thomas Joseph Delany III
March 23rd, 1989 – May 1st, 2020
*Author’s Note: With the service having taken place during the pandemic restrictions of Summer 2020, many friends and loved ones were not able to attend. The following are excerpts from the Celebration of Life service for Thomas “Tommy” Joseph Delany III for you to read, reflect, and pay your respects privately.
There are two candles lit up here today. One to represent Tommy’s family. The other to represent Tommy’s friends. There are people from these two groups that cannot be in attendance today but they send their sincere love and may we recognize and appreciate them in our hearts and prayers. We acknowledge that the global circumstances surrounding us make this service less than traditional. While we give thanks for those of us able to gather today, may we find comfort in the hope that a larger gathering full of many hugs could happen in the future. There are plans for a stone to be placed in his memory at Wolfenbuttel Park down by the Kenosha Harbor and Lake Michigan next year. The family does hope to gather to celebrate and honor him again at that time.
So, let’s give thanks for all of the loved ones in Tommy’s life present and absent as we celebrate and honor him today.
Tommy’s parents, Tom and Katie, have experienced feelings of a type of loss for their son for many years since their kind, quiet, sweet little boy left home at age 18 and chose to maintain some distance from the family. There was a lot to not understand because no one really knew Tommy’s reasons at the time. Through journals that Tommy left behind with obvious intent for them to be read, he divulges the struggles of his journey. He protected his family and bravely dealt with a diagnosis of schizophrenia on his own. He kept to himself and battled through his lonely journey that included pain no one could see and that led him to a choice no one can comprehend.
Mother Teresa said, “When someone takes his own life, we anguish that we should have known enough to help. But only God knows the weight of another’s burden.”
We can easily be consumed with all the questions and the need for explanations that we could become obsessed with searching for answers that are not there. We have the how but are not satisfied with the why. The struggle to comprehend and the desire to find solace will forever be part of this grief journey you are on. You all have a shared pain and are wishing in the depths of your souls that things could be different. It is an overwhelming burden to bear.
Be kind to each other and look not for answers but for acceptance.
Tommy would not want your hearts to be troubled. That is evident in the way he protected you all from his burden. May you find comfort in sweet memories, may you find peace in the ways you find Tommy to still be a part of your present, and may you find hope in being reunited with him again someday in a world free from pain.
May the finesse and beauty of his life never be defined by his death. And may the angels lead him in.
As I sat with Tommy’s family and heard the stories that many of you know about this smart, talented man, the word “Fearless” was prominent. He was calculated in his risks and not reckless but definitely fearless. And that is an admirable quality. Think about how much we are held back by fear. Tommy didn’t let any fear stop him.
At 3 years old he was bound and determined to ride the neighbor’s two-wheel bicycle and in short order he taught himself how to ride it. Apologies to his dad, you did not get your money’s worth out of those training wheels. Tommy was always independent and coordinated. As his parents used to watch young Tommy play in the park and leap and jump from the playground equipment, his dad would have to reassure his mom- relax, he’s got this, he’s ok.
Tommy had a fun childhood filled with the ease of playing outside with neighborhood friends, camping trips, family vacations, and time with his sisters Krystal and Audre. He enjoyed competing in skateboarding and track and the national gaming teams of both World of Warcraft and Left for Dead. Tommy, known as his character Rakeash, was a member of the New England Roll Playing Organization. His wide range of interests and talents also included writing, photography, camping, rock climbing, fishing, canoeing, and kayaking. From playing bass guitar and drums to building his own computers, Tommy had mad skills. Here again, we see his fearlessness, self-confidence, and natural abilities. He taught himself how to play bass and after one year of drum lessons he proceeded to successfully learn independently.
Mom Katie said, “Tommy had finesse with everything he did, especially with playing lacrosse.” Tommy and his dad founded the Kenosha Lacrosse Club which became the Kenosha Raptors. Tommy played lacrosse competitively and was a much sought-after player to fill other teams.
At age 15 he accompanied his dad on a Kenosha News photography assignment to a haunted house. At the end of this haunted house the iconic scary man with a chainsaw jumped out. Dad Tom was busy taking photographs when notified that his son was accidentally hit in the face by the scary chainsaw. That take-your-son-to-work experience ended with 16 stitches and the creation of an online gaming screen name that Tommy fearlessly embraced called “Chainsawed.”
Tommy had an eclectic taste in music and style highly influenced by Punk Rock. From Classical to Bob Dylan to Jimmy Eat World, Tommy was passionate about the music that spoke to him. There are a number of CDs that were Tommy’s that are placed here today. They have been brought here by his parents to be shared so that the music and the memories may live on. Please take a CD as you leave today to listen to and think of Tommy.
What is fabulously impressive is that Tommy always pursued what he wanted. He didn’t follow the crowd or only do what his friends were doing. He was confident enough in himself to compete in sports, be on teams, join games, pursue his passions on his own accord. Not everyone has that drive and personal contentment. Again, this man was fearless.
After graduating from Tremper High School, he attended Milwaukee Technical College where he studied videography and film. His fondness of wild animals led him to work at the Willowbrook Wildlife Center and for ABC Humane Wildlife. His talents were diverse and he also spent many years working as a chef in Waukesha, WI, Columbus, OH, and Chicago, IL. Most recently Tommy was a supervisor for Superior Solutions Fire and Water Recovery. His travels took him across the country and he amassed friends and experiences from Chicago to Colorado and from Ohio to Washington to Palm Springs.
This smart, kind, independent, confident boy had intrinsic strength and external finesse to be admired. There are so many stories to share, and they will be best told by each of you. Due to the pandemic restrictions there will be no luncheon following the service today, but I encourage you to make the phone calls, write the letters, and type the emails, and share the memories, laughter, and tears with each other in the days and years to come. Tommy is deeply missed by numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends, but most intensely missed by his parents Tom and Katie, his sisters Krystal and Audre, and his grandmother Evelyn. The family wants to hear your memories and stories of Tommy and you are invited to reach out to them.
Where we are experiencing his loss- a missing piece- Tommy is experiencing completeness- wholeness. He is home now and at peace in the loving embrace of our Lord in heaven. His journey is complete. He is reunited with his Grandma Regina, Grandpa Thomas, and Grandpa Richard. He is surrounded by love.
Tommy, may you rest in eternal peace knowing you are dearly loved.
May all of Tommy’s loved ones learn the lessons and live on with passion, with grace, and with some of Tommy’s trademark self-confidence and bravery. 31 years went way too fast. May we embrace and cherish our own precious time. May we spread joy and peace. May we be there for each other on our darkest days. May we learn to be open in communicating our own struggles, be humble enough to ask for help, be eager to give help. On your grief journey know that you will survive and you are not alone. You will find purpose in the chaos. And moving on will never mean that you’ve let go.
Please let the good times and the fond memories scroll through your mind as you listen to our closing songs. I’ll leave you with a short poem from the Shel Silverstein books that Tommy liked.
“Years from now. Although I cannot see your face as you flip these poems awhile, somewhere from some far-off place I hear you laughing- and I smile.”
My sincere condolences and love, Holly