Tom Moran in his role as Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast. Queen’s University photo.
By Ray O’Hanlon
Tom Moran, who exemplified the transatlantic and global outreach of Irish American political action and philanthropy, has died in New York.
Mr. Moran, a native of the city, was 65.
He died on Sunday, August 12, after a short illness.
As was the case with the late Bill Flynn, his predecessor at the helm of Mutual of America, Tom Moran turned his business prominence and connections towards a pivotal role in bringing Irish America’s influence to bear in the quest for peace and political accommodation in Northern Ireland.
Mr. Flynn passed in June of this year.
Mr. Moran’s career reached from business into the political, academic and philanthropic realms by virtue of being CEO of Mutual, Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast, and his chairing of the board of the aid organization, Concern Worldwide.
Concern Worldwide, in a statement, said it was with great sadness that it was announcing the passing of its former chairman.
“For all his life, Tom Moran was a beacon of goodness in so many parts of the world where both hope and generosity had not been seen for generations,” said Concern Worldwide U.S. Board Chair Joanna Geraghty.
“Tom demanded that we see not what was, but what could be. What should be. What ought to be.”
Said the Concern release: “A titan of the Irish-American community in New York, Tom was an astute and successful businessman. He joined Mutual of America in a junior administrative role and rose through the ranks to become Chairman, CEO, and President, before his eventual retirement in 2016.
“Tom Moran became involved in Concern Worldwide after a meeting with Fr. Aengus Finucane, who was at the time laying the groundwork for a US base for Ireland’s largest international humanitarian organization.
“The two men developed a deep and lasting friendship, and for over two decades, Tom relentlessly drove the growth of Concern US, investing time, resources, and an endless amount of passion and energy into the development of the organization."
“He did so much for so many people, mostly without anyone knowing about it. He was kind, witty, passionate and loved to tell a good story,” said Colleen Kelly, Concern US CEO.
“He made a huge impact in the world and because of that, will never be forgotten,” she said.
"Tom was a real inspiration to all those who knew him and will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with his wife, Joan, and their wider family at this sad time,” Queen's president and vice-chancellor, Professor Ian Greer, said.
Professor Greer said he was “grateful for Tom’s unwavering support and commitment to the university since he was appointed chancellor in May, 2015. Tom considered it a privilege and honour to be our chancellor and embraced the role with passion and excitement, often commenting how special it was for him to be part of the Queen’s family.”
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said: “I learned with sadness today of the death of Tom Moran in New York. Tom made a very significant positive impact on Irish American relations, in particular supporting peace in Northern Ireland.
"My sincere condolences to his wife, Joan, and to his wider family and friends.”
A Staten Island native with Irish (Fermanagh and Tipperary) and Italian family roots, Mr. Moran joined Mutual of America in 1975 after graduating from Manhattan College with a degree in mathematics.
“A great loss for us and for so many who were touched by this larger-than-life Jasper,” said Rob Walsh, Manhattan College’s recently appointed Senior Advisor for Strategic Partnerships.
Former Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, speaking on behalf of his party, said: “Tom, introduced to the peace process by Bill Flynn, became a crucial player in his positive involvement with political representatives of loyalism making clear his main aim was a shared understanding of the peace process and building support across all communities.
“Tom spoke movingly at Bill’s funeral of the influence Bill had on him in regard to helping to promote and actively help a peace process in Ireland.
"Tom understood the critical importance of involving representatives of all political views in the evolving process of peace and in support of the Good Friday Agreement.
"He was particularly determined to ensure that the voice of loyalism was heard. Tom knew and was a friend to David Ervine. Tom’s loss will be deeply felt by all of us working for peace and justice and for a new dispensation based on inclusivity and equality.
“He will be deeply missed. Our condolences to his wife Joan and his wide circle of family and friends.”
Subsequently, Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald added: “We have heard with great regret of the death today of Tom Moran, former CEO of Mutual of America. Tom has been a stalwart promoter of the Irish Peace Process since the early 90s."
PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton described Mr. Moran as “a great friend, full of honesty, candor and wisdom” and an “authentic advocate for policing and the peace process. Many of us in leadership will miss his support, counsel and humor."
Former SDLP leader Mark Durkan said that Mr. Moran’s support of the peace process "spanned right across and beyond party divides."
Despite his prominence, Tom Moran carried out much of his charitable work quietly and behind the scenes. But his work did not go unrecognized and among his many honors was the Ellis Island Medal of honor and the Irish Presidential Distinguished Services Award.
His funeral is set for Friday, August 17, after Mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan.