Former Hickory Hills Ald. Tom McAvoy holds up the city's business directory he helped to distribute. McAvoy died on Christmas Day.
By Joe Boyle
Tom McAvoy loved politics and enjoyed a good laugh as well.
McAvoy, who at age 67 died on Christmas Day at his Hickory Hills home, was well-known for his political expertise and his ability to enjoy himself during his 14-year term as a 3rd Ward Hickory Hills alderman.
“I have never worked with a person so committed to serve not only his 3rd Ward constituency, but the entire city of Hickory Hills," said Hickory Hills Mayor Mike Howley. "He worked tirelessly on behalf of residents and I cannot think of a person more dedicated for his elected position. He is the perfect example of how a local elected official can really impact the lives of people.”
McAvoy was elected alderman in 2003 with nearly 60 percent of the vote in a three-candidate race. He was elected the same year as Howley. He was re-elected three times. In his last victory in 2015, he had nearly 97 percent of the vote.
“He just loved Hickory Hills so much," said Dee Catizone, who has served as the city clerk for Hickory Hills since 1999. "He was so enthusiastic at election time. We just all loved him. We are going to really miss him.”
He organized more than 120 of his so-called "Third Ward Volunteers" to assist him on various projects during his term. McAvoy also organized and helped run the Bingo Tent at the annual Hickory Hills Street Fair held each summer along Roberts Road.
He also distributed semi-annual newsletters and non-partisan information packets to more than 2,300 voters during every election since 2003.
“I could have never done any of those things alone," McAvoy once said. "I had many helping hands.”
He said in a Reporter story dated Sept. 14, 2017 that it is hard to come up with one specific highlight of his political career.
“It would be difficult to choose one specific great moment because there were many," McAvoy said. "We did a lot and there was also a lot of laughter. We had a lot of fun.”
During the 2016 presidential election, McAvoy came up with the idea of lightening the tense mood of that race by passing out "barf bags" to voters to deal with the controversial election in which both major candidates — Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton — had many critics.
He passed out the bags to get a chuckle out of residents who were arriving to vote at St. Patricia Parish in Hickory Hills.
"Just hold your nose and vote," he told the voters who came to cast their ballots.
"He was one of a kind," Howley said.
Along with serving as a Hickory Hills alderman, McAvoy served as a state representative as a Republican from 1982 to 1983, which at the time covered portions of Chicago's Southwest Side, Burbank, Bridgeview and Bedford Park.
While losing bids for the Senate and later the House in 1986, McAvoy was elected to become a 16th Ward Republican cTom McAvoy dies
ommitteeman on Chicago's Southwest Side in the 1980s.
He was also a Chicago office manager for the Illinois Department Department of Commerce and Community Affairs. He also held positions for the Illinois Department of Transportation.
McAvoy often boasted that his grandfather, Tom, was a union organizer of grain elevator operations in the Chicago Stockyards and worked with the Roosevelts. But he pointed out that it was Republican Theodore Roosevelt he worked for. His grandfather was working for Roosevelt during his 1904 election for president.
Walter "Babe" McAvoy was in his fourth term as a Republican state representative from Chicago when his son, Tom McAvoy, was born in 1951. McAvoy said he began working for his father at the age of 7 and got hooked on politics.
McAvoy stunned the Hickory Hills City Council during a board meeting on Aug. 24, 2017 when he handed in his resignation due to health reasons.
A U.S. Army veteran who served in the 525th Military Intelligence Unit while in Vietnam from 1971 to 1972, McAvoy was honorably discharged on June 22,1973.
McAvoy said that according to the Veterans Affairs Department, his exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam over 45 years ago had created his health issues.
“On a lighter note, I have really enjoyed my job as alderman," added McAvoy. "I could write a book full of stories about various events and incidents over the years. The bad memories are very few and overwhelmingly counterbalanced by the good ones.”
He is survived by his wife, Erin (nee Clegg); stepdaughter, Megan Crouse; and nephew, Tim Harnedy.
Services were Saturday at Lack & Sons Funeral Home. Interment took place at St. Mary Cemetery.