On May 15, 2012, my friend Tom Fish died of natural causes in Greenfield, Massachusetts. If no obituary is published elsewhere, let this serve as one.
Tom was born June 26, 1961 in Levittown, NY, to Prescott Hayes Fish, late of Florida, and Ida Theresa “Tess” Cash, late of Massachusetts. He was by far the youngest of four children, and to the best of anyone’s knowledge has predeceased a brother, two sisters, at least two nephews, and at least one niece. He is survived by two children, Anne and Alan, and their mother, Diana.
This paragraph is an update to what I knew and what had transpired at the original writing. It is 1/29/23. It bothered me that I didn’t remember the names of some of Tom’s family, even though I had met them many years ago. First, both parents had indeed predeceased him. I was uncertain of that until I wrote this originally, but have found the info online recently to have exact dates. His unlamented stepmother died subsequent to Tom. His brother-in-law, David J. Croan, had died in 2005, and his sister, Alice G. Croan, passed July 10, 2017. Her children, the niece and nephews I had met in my youth, were Daniel A. Croan of Fall River, MA, Keith D. Croan of Colorado, and Kathleen A. Richards of Pembroke, MA. This is the part of the family known to me. There are also several children and great grandchildren to Tom’s sister. Since he’d held himself estranged from the family, I don’t know that Tom ever was aware of any marriages or offspring of the near-age relatives. Other siblings to Tom that I now know of were named Donald and Suzanne.
Tom spent much of his life in Massachusetts, moving in his youth from New York to Cape Cod, then to Pembroke, where he attended Silver Lake Regional High School. We met there in 1975. Subsequently he attended University of Massachusetts at Amherst for English and History.
Tom lived briefly in Florida, which is how I came to spend several weeks there in 1986. Then he lived for a time in New Hampshire, before settling in western Massachusetts, a place he had come to love during college. Most of that time was spent in Turners Falls, where he served for a time as a town meeting member and on the zoning board of appeals. Again, he was the reason I spent some time living in that area. He could be most persuasive and infectiously enthusiastic.
In his youth, Tom loved genealogy, for all he was not always close to his family. He was proud of his links to the Mayflower and early Cape Cod settlers, and would haunt libraries for hours in the pre-internet days, once dragging me along. I was bored, apparently being more fascinated in theory than with the nuts and bolts, nee this and begat that. In one line, he went farther back than anyone I know, to the hundreds AD.
It was Tom’s father who suggested that he get into title search, applying the genealogy research skills to real estate. That broke him out of the classic post-college drift, and ultimately out of his discomfort with being an employee. Despite how scary and rocky it was getting established, risking being entrepreneurial, he was tenacious. He could always write well, and could be one of the most persuasive people I knew. That helped him get established. Being good kept him busy, until the internet changed the business for everyone. He had an impressive run.
In the end, Tom turned to book indexing, another good application of his ability to focus on details and producing accurate results.
Tom was active in the U. Mass. Science Fiction Society, the roots of his later achievement of being one of the co-founders of Arisia, a large Boston area SF convention and the organization of the same name that runs it. He was how I came to be involved in that.
While I never thought of Tom as “a dog person” or a particular lover of animals earlier in his life, he did have a dog, a Sheltie named Wanderer, when we first met. That was the dog on whose nose we mischievously put Pop Rocks. Later in life, he started a group called Valley Dog Rescue. It mostly centered – still does – around a mailing list of people involved in rescuing and placing dogs and other animals. If he could have, he would have devoted all of his attention to dog rescue. He brought people together and accomplished much good.
Tom will be missed by the many people whose lives he touched over the years.
Good job Marshall. Tom sure lived a productive life for sure. He did alot in his short time here.
Thank you for pulling together the scattered bits of relevant data into a cohesive picture of a life that has come and gone, much as he would have done himself. I hope his eternal optimism that everything was going to be much better soon and work out just perfectly has come true for him now. Peace.
When Marshall contacted me and related Tom’s passing; it brought back many memories of times passed, and it made me sad to believe that such a young man had gone, much too soon.
He is quite correct in his statement that Tom was ” persuasive ” and ” infectious ” but I observed Tom in other facets, as well. He was more emotionally charged than he allowed others’ to see, and far more sensitive than he often felt comfortable with. Tom had a sense of justice, which I think inspired him in many of his pursuits later .
I had the sense that he never felt comfortable with his emotions. This often led one to think he was caustic, sarcastic … and cynical; but in truth, he wasn’t. That was his defense mechanisms in full throttle.
Being the youngest child of older parents wasn’t entirely easy for him, although he did have a pleasant relationship with his elder siblings, and admired greatly his older brother’s success in life. Sometimes he would relate situations with his parents, as they were then divorced, and he would tell us in amusing ways.
I can only recall events prior to his graduation from Silver Lake, so Marshall has filled in many gaps I had no knowledge of.
I enjoyed conversing with him, and he had the most fascinating opinions of life …
I hope he is at peace .. You shall be missed by many, Thomas.
I remember Tom from school and am saddened to hear of his passing. May he rest in peace and in God’s arms.