It is with great sadness that we share the news of a beloved Pullman Scholar Alumnus’s passing, Thomas Meagher. Thomas, affectionately known as Tom in the Pullman Foundation office and to other Pullman Scholars, passed away Wednesday, April 19, 2017, in his home.

Tom is the epitome of a Pullman Scholar. Tom received his Pullman Foundation Scholarship in 1962 and attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with an engineering mechanics major. He went on to work at Caterpillar, Inc. for 41 years before retiring.

After retiring he volunteered his time by helping the Foundation. He volunteered for the Pullman Scholar Selection Committee and the annual Pullman Scholar Symposium; he met with recent grads to help them with their job hunt; he volunteered to go on camera to share his Pullman Story, and he met with Foundation staff to share ideas on how to grow the scholarship and Foundation. His contributions to our mission and our scholars are invaluable and we will greatly miss seeing his smile and receiving his guidance and support.

Tom often said “For me, the value of the scholarship was incalculable. No Pullman Scholarship, no U of I; no U of I, no Caterpillar. It was fortuitous that I got that scholarship.”

“In actuality, it is the Foundation and the Pullman Scholar Community who are fortunate to have been a part of the life of such a wonderful and gracious man,” says Robin Redmond, executive director. “Tom and his wife Joan epitomize characteristics of a Pullman Scholar. He will be greatly missed.”

If you would like to share a memory or send best regards to the Meagher family we would be happy to forward them via email on your behalf.  Please click here to send your email.

You can find his obituary here.

The George M. Pullman Educational Foundation helped Tom Meagher attend college. Now he’s giving back.

Tom Meagher

Meagher volunteering at the 2015 Symposium

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…)