Preserving the Past, Informing the Future
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Any summary of the life of Judge Thomas J. Molloy which fails to refer to his open-handed generosity will not be complete. One of his outstanding characteristics was his love of charitable giving. "Charity" to him was a Biblical mandate directed by God. Thus, to any, to all and to everyone in need, he gave not only financial aid to the best of his ability but also his time, energy, strength, advice, and even of the wisdom he possessed so abundantly.
He was modest and unassuming, slow to anger and slow to condemn; he had faith in God and in the inherent goodness of man. Yet, he had the strength of character which marks all good men and which fitted him for his judicial tasks. Faced with a difficult problem, he welcomed it and saw it through with unyielding tenacity. Old age failed to blunt his keen mind, which remained clear and vigorous to the end. He was uncompromisingly opposed to all which was sham, unfair or wrong.
Blessed with resounding voice and capable of presenting a stern mien at times, he enjoyed appearing somewhat unbending - knowing that the right word at the right time would puncture and deflate the balloon of his pretended ferocity. He had a rich sense of humor and loved to laugh, quite often even at himself. To represent his character as all sweetness and light would, of course, be an exaggeration. There were days when "the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to" sank their shafts deeply into his robust constitution, and he reacted as most human beings react to pain. Of all the human beings I have known, he was the most human, as well as the most humane.
In his later years, Judge Molloy developed some unique and endearing habits, one being that of whistling as he walked along the corridor to, or from, a hearing. Long before he could be seen, he could be heard, whistling a modified and invariably off-key rendition of whatever tune he had in mind, alternating mainly between "The Rose of Tra-Lee" and "Gloria in Excelsis Deo." It delighted him to corner a passerby and inquire of him the name of the tune he had been whistling. Seldom did the involuntary participant guess correctly, which always pleased the judge, causing him to chuckle and deplore the listener's sad lack of musical knowledge.
He was the proud possessor of a number of canes, one of his favorites being a handsome stick which had belonged to the late John Barrymore and which, in the manner of "Bat Masterson," the judge would sometimes shake menacingly at anyone he liked very much.
At Christmas time, he not only remembered his relatives, friends, neighbors, fellow employees, janitors, paperboy and milkman but practically everyone who casually crossed his path. He sent contributions far and wide: to India, Africa and South America, and to the American Indians on their reservations. To the pastors of Catholic flocks in various parts of the world he sent donations, for his religion, in which he deeply believed, was as much a part of him as his integrity. It was a source of strength and comfort to him all his life. It is not an exaggeration to predict that people all over the earth will miss Judge Molloy's kindly hand next Christmas, for it will be the first time in years that the mail will fail to bring some offering from him to help them carry on their work. He believed wholeheartedly in supporting his faith, and he did so. There were no halfway measures with Judge Molloy, and it was never necessary for anyone to guess whether he was for or against him.
A matter particularly dear to Judge Molloy's heart was the connection which existed between his father, Daniel T. Molloy, and Mark Twain, for whom the judge's father had worked as a gardener years ago when Twain lived on Farmington Avenue in what is now the Mark Twain Memorial. The judge's father was eventually obliged to leave Twain's employ because of ill health in 1886, when Judge Molloy was one year old. The great writer gave Daniel Molloy $100 as a gift to enable him to return to Ireland to regain his health. In those days, $100 was a small fortune and undoubtedly represented feelings of friendship and affection.
In June, 1967, Judge Molloy made a substantial contribution to the Mark Twain Memorial restoration fund, a gift which he had long wanted to make out of gratitude for Twain's generosity to his father.
A hard worker, Judge Molloy was meticulous and dependable. On the morning of the day which he entered the hospital for the operation which preceded his death, he participated in a committee conference with two fellow referees, so it is fair to say that he worked right up to the last, in his eighty-third year, a remarkable and inspiring achievement.
In short, in this world where the synthetic has come to pass more and more frequently for the genuine, Judge Molloy was a real man and worthy of the respect of his office.
Born on June 29, 1885, in Hartford, he was the son of Daniel T. and Mary Killeen Molloy. He attended Hartford Public High School and was graduated in 1908 from Yale Law School. In 1921, he was appointed to the Court of Common Pleas by the late Governor Everett Lake, and in 1946 he was appointed by Governor Raymond E. Baldwin to the Superior Court, where he served on that bench until his retirement under constitutional limitation as to age on June 29, 1955. After retirement in 1955, he became an active state referee, busier than ever, continuing to hold numerous hearings during the subsequent twelve years. He rarely took a vacation but worked steadily through summer and winter alike. In addition to serving on the bench and as an active referee, he taught for twenty-four years at what is now the University of Connecticut School of Law, formerly the Hartford Law School.
He was a prominent Catholic layman, devoting his spare time to religious activities, serving as State Deputy and Grand Knight of the Hartford Council during his forty-seven years as a member of the Knights of Columbus. He enjoyed the high honor of being made a Knight of St. Gregory and served as a director of Hartford Council 11, Knights of Columbus and of Bishop McMahon Assembly Fourth Degree. He also belonged to the Sierra Club of Hartford, the Holy Family Layman's Retreat League and the Men of LaSalette, as well as to the American, Connecticut and Hartford County Bar Associations.
The cataract operations, for which he entered the hospital, were successful, but Judge Molloy never again enjoyed the blessing of clear sight. During the early morning hours of Thursday, December 21, 1967, he passed away, leaving his family and friends poorer for his passing.
He is survived by his wife, Esther Radding Molloy, of West Hartford, and by his three children of that marriage: Marshall E. Molloy, Paul W. Molloy, and Mary Esther Molloy. Two children of his prior marriage to Kathleen E. Hartnett, deceased, also survive him: Thomas J. Molloy Jr., of Wapping, and Mrs. Charles A. Rogers, Jr., of Newington. He left one brother, Daniel G. Molloy, of Cincinnati, Ohio, and seven grandchildren.