He was a loving husband, proud grandpa, and eternal optimist. Thomas Joseph Houlihan, Tom to those who knew him, personified the Canadian dream. He left his home in Ireland and travelled across the world as a young man in pursuit of opportunity and adventure.
He will be forever missed by his wife, Nellie (nee Romanchuk); daughter, Carmen (Bruce) Alton; and grandsons, Tom, Jack, and Scott. He is survived by his sister, Kitty; brother, Eamon (Francis); sister-in-law, Dolores in Ireland; Dorothy in Santa Monica; along with many nieces and nephews in Ireland and England. He was predeceased by his father, Thomas; mother, Elizabeth; son, Tim; brothers, John, Donnie, Patrick; and sisters, Maureen and Bessie.
Tom was born on April 23, 1935 in Shanagolden, County Limerick, Ireland. “Monavaha” was a thriving mixed dairy farm where he and his siblings were up at dawn each day to milk the cows. He sang in the church choir, caused his mother headaches with his boyhood antics, and loved to sneak off to dances. After finishing high school he once even snuck off to England.
Tom came to Canada in 1957 as a young man of 22 and Edmonton became his adopted home. He considered it to be one of the greatest cities in the world. He loved the lifestyle, culture of its people and his extended Ukrainian family. It was in Edmonton that he would meet the love of his life, Nellie. They would marry in 1959 and were committed partners for 61 years.
Naturally charismatic and filled with Irish charm, his career path included years with Midwest Paper and Cryovac Packaging before settling into his true passion – real estate. He worked with Spencer Real Estate, LTD Realty, and finally NAI Commercial before retiring in 2008 after 34 years. But slow down he did not, as he continued working in the industry for another decade. He loved researching and negotiating land deals and working with his many friends and colleagues.
Tom was a man of faith and one who put his beliefs into action. He believed in hard work, being prepared, cold calling, following up, keeping your word, keeping your shoes shined, living life to the fullest, and using the word “awesome”. He took great pleasure in daily walks and loved to laugh and joke with pretty much everyone he met.
Tom was a strong believer in giving back and was involved in city events, charitable causes, political campaigns and his church community. He was proud of his volunteer roles in the Edmonton Jaycees, Commonwealth Games, Universiade Games, Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton, Good Shepherd Catholic Church and many others. His dedication was honored with an Alberta Centennial Award of Excellence in 2005.
Tom loved reading biographies, newspapers (including the flyers) and Fortune magazine. He delighted in watching multiple news programs each day and religiously tuned in to 60 Minutes every Sunday. Regular vacation destinations included Banff, Maui, Palm Desert, and Ireland. Though Canada was his chosen home, Ireland was his homeland – he was so proud of his birthplace.
Tom and Nell settled happily into their new home in Canterbury Manor in 2019. They enjoyed a new social community with many friendships. We would like to thank the staff of the Canterbury Foundation for their warmth, care and support.
Instead of flowers, please consider donations to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and the Kids with Cancer Society, local organizations dear to Tom’s heart.
A private family service will be held with interment at Holy Cross Cemetery. We are planning a post-Covid-19 celebration of his life as we know how much Tom loved getting together with family and friends.
Those Irish eyes will never stop smiling.