Thomas A Harty, What an Incredible Life

Thomas A. HartyOn the front page of today’s Recorder are two lowlifes from Athol who fled to Virginia after allegedly murdering one of the most interesting men who ever lived in Orange, MA.  That man was Thomas A Harty, and in the paper today his long life story was told.

Among the accomplishments Harty made over his 95 years was climbing all of the 4000-foot peaks in New England, walking the length of the Long Trail from Canada to North Adams, MA, and hiking the entire Appalachian trail at age 75.

He called himself TOM, which stood for “The Old Man.”

In his long obituary, Harty is cited for many accomplishments–his love of the Grand Canyon first and foremost, where he brought a group to hike twice a year.  His wide circle of friends “coveted a place on ‘the list’ to accompany him on these trips, the story said.

Not only did Thomas Harty travel, hike and climb all of his life, he remained an active member of the working class, selling tools for his family company, and keeping up with current events in town and around the world.  Yesterday, had he lived, he would have continued his tradition of hiking up Mount Greylock on the annual Columbus Day ramble–for years he’s been the senior hiker there.

Every time a member of the Greatest Generation dies, we lose a lot. Harty enlisted in the Navy in 1943, and served as an electrician’s mate until he was honorably discharged in 1946.  Then he had a 32 year career with Rodney Hunt and eventually worked for himself as a traveling salesman after that. He never stopped driving, hiking or climbing even into his late 90s.

He never slowed down, and was a regular morning fixture at the cafe inside of the Outfitters in the center of Orange, where he had friends of all ages, who marveled at his spryness. Later in life, he became a big booster of the girl’s basketball team at Mahar, and attended almost every game.  He also sponsored children of single mothers to help pay for their memberships at the Athol YMCA in.

People like Thomas Harty are rare, and he will be missed.