Thomas J. Lilly, Grand Marshal of the 2010 Glen Cove St. Patrick’s Day Parade, is a native of the Flatlands area of Brooklyn, the youngest of three children born to Frank Lilly and Mary Ellen Kelly of Mary Queen of Heaven parish. He attended Most Holy Trinity High School in Brooklyn. Tom then spent three years at Maryknoll College and later graduated with a B.A. degree from St. John’s University.
After four years in the Navy, mostly aboard the aircraft carrier Coral Sea in the Near East, Mediterranean and Caribbean he resumed his educational career, earning a J.D. Degree at night from Fordham Law School, becoming a member of the Bar in 1961. Later, also at night, he received an LLM at N.Y.U. Law School.
Tom was appointed an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. He went on to start his own practice and is very sell known in the area of labor relations and employment law. He has taught in that field as a professor at the Xavier Institute, C.W. Post, and at Cornell School of Industrial-Labor Relations.
A bright thread running through the tapestry of Tom’s life is his resolve to put into practice Christ’s teaching of service to our brothers and sisters, especially to the “least among us”. This dedication led him to devote his legal career to the protection of the rights of working people to organize to defend themselves and promote their interests. It led him to unswerving advocacy on behalf of the unborn and their mothers and his position as a board member of Momma’s House. That dedication is also the impetus for his tireless efforts in support of our neighbors who need assistance in hard times. Tom has had a lifelong devotion to the St. Vincent de Paul Society, emulating his father as a longtime member. He has served as President of the Nassau-Suffolk Central Board and is currently President of the St. Boniface Conference of that Society.
The principle of service to community also led Tom to political involvement as the local Democratic leader in Sea Cliff. In the 1980’s he spearheaded the presidential campaign of Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson on Long Island and former DA Denis Dillon has credited Tom as the first person to encourage him to run for public office. Tom, himself, has also run for office.
In 1958 he married Marge Doherty of Park Slope. They later moved to Sea Cliff, where they have resided for over forty years. They have of four children, Thomas and Joseph, (both attorneys), Mary Jo and Sean (both teachers), and are the grandparents of Thomas, Eileen, Sarah, Jones and Catherine Lilly.
Tom and Marge are active members of St. Boniface Martyr Parish in Sea Cliff. He served as President of the Parish Council, was fundraising captain for the parish, taught Religious Education classes and belonged to the Nocturnal Adoration Society. A parish publication in 1973 declared that “the name Thomas Joseph Lilly has become synonymous with St. Boniface School”, where he served as Chairman of the School Board for many years.
Tom would likely attribute his dedication to the working person, to the less powerful members of society, to church, community and family to the influence of his Irish ancestry and heritage. It’s no coincidence that Tom has had a long interest and involvement in the struggle for religious, civil and national rights in his ancestral homeland. He is a dedicated member of the AOH having served as President for three terms and as Historian for many years and he is a founding member of the Glen Cove St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee.
The women and men of Glen Cove Divisions 8 of the LAOH and AOH will never be prouder and can follow no better lead than when we follow our brother, Grand Marshal Thomas Joseph Lilly, Grand Marshal of the 22nd Annual Glen Cove St. Patrick’s Day Parade.