NEW YORK, NY – In accordance with his wishes, no services will be held for Thomas J. Byrne Jr., 89, who died on April 11 from a heart attack while jogging near his home in New York City.
He was born on May 1, 1924 son of Thomas and Mary Byrne, he grew up in the New York City area, first in the Bronx, then mainly Long Beach on Long Island and briefly Queens during his high school years.
His father’s steady job working for the City Assessor’s office enabled the family to make it through the Depression, but those challenging times left an indelible impression on Tom. He enjoyed spending time on the water and in small boats, and with a cousin occasionally sneaked onto a nearby golf course at night to dive in water hazards and collect misplayed golf balls, which they would then resell.
Tom attended New York City public schools and Princeton University, where he majored in economics and was on the swim team. With the outbreak of war, Tom interrupted his studies to enlist in the Navy. He served on an underwater demolition team and was stationed on ships in the Pacific. Shortly after the Armistice was signed, he entered Japan as part of the occupation forces, and upon seeing the massive gun emplacements surrounding the harbors was thankful not to be part of an invasion force. He helped to clean out the harbors and later spent several months driving around Japan in a Jeep with a surveyor crew. He kept fond memories of this time and the Japanese people he met.
When his military service ended, he returned to complete his undergraduate degree at Princeton. His first job out of college was with the Abraham and Strauss (A&S) department store in Brooklyn, where he met Marilyn Horst. They married in 1955.
Tom’s stint in retail did not last long as he left to join Shields & Co., a brokerage firm and investment bank. There he gained an appreciation for financial markets that would become a lifelong passion. He spent nearly four decades as an investment banker with the firm, which through a series of acquisitions eventually became Prudential-Bache Securities. Upon reaching the firm’s mandatory retirement age, he moved to other smaller firms, including Ladenburg Thalmann and William D. Witter, and then spent the last 10 years searching for investment opportunities on his own.
Tom loved to invest in young growth companies and took the greatest pleasure from watching people with a good idea put it to the test and succeed. Over the years he saw – and avoided – plenty of shenanigans on Wall Street and experienced the market’s ups and downs, but he remained at heart an optimist who viewed the market as an impartial arbiter of what works. He had little patience for politicians and ideologues of any stripe, and notwithstanding a conservative crew cut and taciturn demeanor, believed that everyone deserves a fair shake and some need a helping hand.
Tom’s ties to Vermont date back to the 1950s, when he and Marilyn purchased an old farm on Broad Brook Road in East Barnard, where they spent vacations and summers with their two children. He was always grateful for the friendship and support of the East Barnard community. In his later years, Tom took up gardening and always looked forward to planting new flowers and whacking weeds.
Tom was predeceased by a son, Thomas Byrne III, and is survived by his wife Marilyn of New York City, his daughter Laura Byrne and son-in-law Philip Glouchevitch of Hanover, NH, and grandsons Cameron and Adrian.
This obituary first appeared in the April 17, 2014 print edition of the Vermont Standard.
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