Most everybody around Bainbridge Island knows Tom McCloskey. Since he retired in 2012, he’s been active in many community organizations, especially the Rotary Club of Bainbridge.
And it’s for his work as a Rotarian, and as a volunteer, that he was named the 2016 Citizen of the Year by the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce.
That award carries the great honor of getting to be the grand marshal for the July 4th parade on the island.
“I’m accepting the honor on behalf of all those who I have worked with in all the organization that I volunteer for,” said McCloskey of being named Citizen of the Year, and getting to be grand marshal for the parade. “In my mind, they’ll all be right up there with me.”
The parade, which is on July 4th and travels down Winslow Way, will begin with a convertible and seated in it will be McCloskey and his wife, Louise, to which he gives much credit.
“In everything I’ve done to help out here on Bainbridge, she’s been with me every step of the way,” he said.
Tom and Louise moved to Bainbridge Island in 1994, from California. They had been to the Seattle area on business and a friend told them to check out Bainbridge Island.
“We did,” he said. “We came here and stayed in a bed and breakfast. And on the ferry back we said to each other ‘This is where we want to live.’”
So they left his home state of California, moving their business The McCloskey Group, to Bainbridge Island. He’d operated the company since 1980 and when they married in 1993, Louise became part of it.
The company was in action until Tom retired in 2012. It was a consulting firm that specialized in emergency response and crisis management services to more than 70 oil and utility companies and government agencies in more than 40 countries around the world. Previously, he worked as the assistant to the Secretary of Energy and Minerals in the U.S. Department of Interior during the Carter Administration. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Notre Dame, and a master’s degree from the Monterey Institute of International Studies.
His work took him all over the world and he can attest to 6 million miles on airliners.
“I loved my work,” he said. “I worked 365 days of the year, 10 to 12 hours a day. But I got tired of having to say goodbye to my wife. So I retired.”
And, because he was so busy when he was working, and didn’t have time to be a part of the Bainbridge Island community, in retirement he has made it his goal to “give back.”
“I’ve had a very blessed life,” he said. “I had great parents, great siblings and great friends. I love living on Bainbridge Island. And I want to repay life’s lessons.”
He was drawn to the Rotary because of their message: “Service Before Self.”
“It’s a fantastic organization and gets things done,” he said, noting he joined in March of 2012.
That year, he helped with the club’s annual auction and in 2014, he became chairman of the auction. He’s chairman again this year.
The auction, he said, is something that is special to him because of the volume of support it gets.
“Members work so hard to make it happen,” he said. “And people donate things that are really worth something. And then, there’s all those people who come out on the day of to shop.”
Last year, the auction brought in nearly half a million dollars, he said. And they’re hoping for a repeat of that — or greater — this year.
Every penny of that is given back to the community in the form of grants and service projects, he added.
The list of organizations and campaigns he’s volunteered for is long. It includes Rotary director of community services and auction chairman, chair of vocational service committee for the Bainbridge Island School District and a member of the district’s career and technical education committee, member of the Community Emergency Preparedness Committee, volunteer with Helping Hands including food drives, grants and fundraising events, director of the Bainbridge Youth Services board and chair of its summer internship program committee, member of the board of directors of the Bainbridge Public Library, treasurer for the People for Parks and Islanders for a Secure Bainbridge campaign committees, and the Bainbridge Striders.
On the day of the parade, McCloskey will be a busy guy. He plans to ride as grand marshal at the head of the parade and when he gets to the end, he’ll run back to join the Rotarians as they march in the parade.
“I began walking in the July 4th parade with the Rotary in 2014,” he said. “It was very overwhelming — the outpouring of support from the people along the route saying ‘Thank you’ to the Rotary for all we do.
I wouldn’t miss that, no matter what.”