The George M. Pullman Educational Foundation helped Tom Meagher attend college. Now he’s giving back.
At age 70, Tom Meagher has the luxury of reviewing a life well lived—a loving family, a fulfilling career, a retirement characterized by good health and financial comfort. You get the feeling he wouldn’t change much if he had to do it over again.
It might have turned out differently. His father, a diabetic, died at 34, leaving Meagher’s mother to take care of 6-year-old Tom, his 8-year-old brother, and 2-year-old sister. The kids toughed it out in public schools near their home at 75th and Damen on Chicago’s South Side. The path of least resistance, when he graduated from Calumet High School in the early 1960s, would have been to get a blue-collar job, punch a clock, and contribute to the family budget. This could have been a fine life.
But Meagher, who liked math and science, had other ideas. He wanted a college degree. His mother encouraged him. His grandmother helped him complete applications. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign welcomed him aboard. (more…)