Thomas Joseph Patrick CassidyJanuary 24, 2018
Passed away at Peace with the Lord Wed. Jan. 24, 2018. Dear father of Stephen James (Carol) Cassidy, Peter Clemens Cassidy, Mary Elizabeth Cassidy, Judith Ann (Scott) Fiducci, Paul Daniel Cassidy; Papa to Ruby Lia Cassidy, Mia Loren Cassidy, Ellen Elizabeth (Nate) Oxenford, Thomas Matthew Carlson, Claire Cassidy Carlson, John Edward Fiducci, Joseph Patrick Fiducci and Michael Francis Fiducci, Great-Papa of Benjamin Matthew Oxenford. Also survived by other dear relatives and many close friends. He was preceded in death by his cherished wife, Rita Mae (nee Witt).
Thomas graduated from Marquette University High School and Marquette University School of Engineering. He retired Executive Senior Vice President of WE Energies; a Company he loved, in 1990.
Family will receive relatives and friends at San Camillo Chapel, Wauwatosa (10200 W. Bluemound Rd.) on Wed. Feb. 7, 2018 from
10 AM to the time of Mass of Christian Burial at 11 AM. Following the Mass, the celebration of Tom’s life will continue at the Wisconsin Club. Private interment at Holy Cross Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorials in TJC’s name to Marquette University High School would be appreciated.
A Written Tribute to Thomas J. Cassidy
The note was on his bedside table. Seventeen words from Thomas Cassidy, written in a shaky hand: “I thank God every day for my sense of humor. Life would surely be difficult without it.”
Not one to complain, he wrote the words last year, an observation after a series of challenging health issues.
There was humor but also serious-minded work, opportunity and all kinds of luck in the long and happy life of Thomas Cassidy, and he thanked God for all of it.
Cassidy, a retired executive of Wisconsin Electric Power Company, father of five and longtime community advocate, died peacefully on the morning of January 24 at San Camillo retirement community in Wauwatosa. He was 92.
Cassidy was an affable man with a ready smile. It’s hard to find a photograph of him not smiling. One of his daughters wrote in a mock newspaper front page created for his 90th birthday that on the day he was born in January 1925, his parents couldn’t help but notice their “chubby, blue-eyed infant” smiling in the nursery at Mount Sinai Hospital.
Thomas Joseph Patrick Cassidy grew up in St. Sebastian Parish, the only child of Ernest Joseph, an entrepreneur who was a founder of the Freeman Shoe Company, and Lillian, a homemaker.
When Tom was 10 years old, his father died unexpectedly. He left enough resources for young Tom and his mother to weather the effects of the Great Depression. Still, Tom Cassidy saw the Depression all around him, and he never forgot it. A lifelong Catholic, Cassidy attended St. Sebastian Elementary School, then Marquette University High School. It was then on to Marquette University, where he was accepted in the Navy ROTC scholarship program during World War II. He also studied at Cornell University under the NROTC program and graduated in 1945 as an Ensign, with a degree in mechanical engineering. He was shipped off to the West Coast, and then Hawaii, where he was assigned as second in command of a minesweeper. The task was to get the Yard Mine Sweeper USS-317 back to the US so it could be decommissioned. The ship’s engines burned oil steadily during the journey, and they got as far as the Panama Canal. From there, the Navy sent Cassidy home.
Back in Milwaukee, a blind date led to lifelong love. A friend had arranged a double blind date and with two sisters, and needed a second guy for that date. Cassidy stepped in and met Rita Mae Witt.
On the date, the sisters noted that they would be spending the summer at their family cottage on Booth Lake in East Troy. The next weekend, Cassidy and a college friend drove out to Booth Lake in search of Rita Mae. They found the cottage but, showing up unannounced, enjoyed conversation on the patio but were not asked in.
Rita Mae and Tom began dating. He fell in love with her and her big family, and all the gatherings that came with them.
Rita Mae was a senior at Mount Mary College, and by then Cassidy had started working for Wisconsin Electric. He joined the utility in 1946 as a time-study engineer, earning about $225 a month.
Tom and Rita Mae were married on Oct. 22, 1949, a year after she graduated. The first of five children soon followed.
Their life centered on each other, on family, and on faith.
Tom and Rita Mae attended mass daily, walking to church before Tom left for work. They did this for nearly 30 years.
As a father, Tom was quiet and patient but firm. All of their children attended Catholic schools, and Tom insisted that they hold summer jobs.
Cassidy rose steadily at Wisconsin Electric: manager of labor relations in 1961; assistant vice president in 1965; vice president – industrial relations in 1967. He was elected senior vice president in 1975 and executive vice president in 1985. In 1989, he became an executive officer of Wisconsin Energy Corporation and a director of Wisconsin Electric and Wisconsin Natural Gas Company. WEC’s Chairman wrote in 1986 “ There are many reasons for WE’s success, but none is more crucial than the qualifications of the men and women who work for Wisconsin Electric and no single person is more responsible for building that set of employees than T.J. Cassidy”
That deep Catholic faith was an enduring thread throughout his life, and his community work reflected it. He served on the board of directors of DePaul Rehabilitation Hospital, and as a director of the Milwaukee Council on Alcoholism, the Silver Spring Neighborhood Center, Pius XI High School, Divine Savior-Holy Angels High School, and the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother Ministry.
He retired in 1990, and he and his wife became snowbirds at their condo in Bonita Springs, Fla. Tom picked up his wife’s passion for gardening. They enjoyed their homes on 52nd Street, Brook Avenue in ElmGrove, High Ridge in Delafield and Worthington Country Club in Bonita Springs.
Tom and Rita Mae enjoyed making friends and had many dear friends. Tom’s college card club played Sheepshead for more than 70 years.
After Rita Mae died, Tom moved to San Camillo and made a happy home for himself on the 10th floor. He enjoyed the people and his new apartment.
His community work went on. A wide variety of causes gained his support. Often, he saw people in need, less fortunate through no fault of their own.
He supported Native American causes. He saw them as forgotten people. He gave to organizations that helped women find a way out of prostitution. He loved the Boys Club in Chicago.
As his daughter Judith explained: “He felt that if everyone gave a little bit it would make a big difference".
Marquette University High School