Thomas W. Gleason, Jr., oldest son of legendary ILA President Teddy Gleason, and an acclaimed labor attorney in his own right who argued cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and as General Counsel for the International Longshoremen’s Association, served under three Presidents, passed away on Wednesday, November 28th at 94.
Gleason was a larger than life character and a most deserving member of America’s Greatest Generation. He quit high school to join the Marines during the Second World War, losing a leg in the Battle of Saipan. Returning to the States as a wounded and heroic war veteran, his career options seemed limited. His father, Teddy Gleason, and other family members purchased a small resort in upstate New York -Browns Hotel – where Tommy Gleason turned the hotel into a boxing training camp. Many of the famed boxers of that era in the late 1940s and 1950s would spend summers training at the Gleason’s Browns Hotel. But Thomas Gleason was always bound for the New York Waterfront. A young Tommy Gleason found work on the New York waterfront following in the footsteps of his father and his grandfather, working as a checker and longshoreman during the day while attending school at night on the GI Bill, eventually obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree from Manhattan College and a Law Degree from St. John’s University.
He married at an early age and he and his wife, Catherine, had nine children.
As an attorney and General Counsel for the ILA, Tom Gleason helped the ILA leadership craft Collective Bargaining Agreements that would become legendary. Included in these landmark agreements was the Guaranteed Annual Income that helped buffer ILA members from the impact of Containerization; negotiating “coastwise” Master Contracts that helped strengthen the bargaining power of all ILA ports from Maine to Texas.
He would serve as counsel during his father’s six terms as ILA president and continued under the Administrations of John Bowers and Richard P. Hughes.
Like his father, Teddy Gleason, Thomas W. Gleason was active and revered in the Irish American community. Twenty years after Teddy Gleason led the 1984 St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City as Grand Marshal, Tommy Gleason was bestowed the same honor in 2004 when he wore the Grand Marshal sash and led more than 200,000 marchers up Fifth Avenue. Thomas Gleason counted among his close friends the Irish Prime Minister Charles Haughey; famed Irish comedian Hal Roach and renowned Irish tenor Frank Patterson.
“Thomas W. Gleason was a legend in his own right and his contributions to the ILA were outstanding,” said current ILA President Harold Daggett. “Tommy Gleason proved to be a great asset during his father’s presidency but his accomplishments were great and his memory will long endure.”
Thomas Gleason’s younger brother, Robert E. Gleason served in a number of positions with the ILA, including International Secretary-Treasurer from 1991 until his retirement in 2012.
Family will be receiving visitors at Thomas W. Gleason’s Wake, scheduled for Friday, November 30, 2018 at Frank E. Campbell, The Funeral Chapel, 1076 Madison Avenue (81st Street), New York, New York: 212-288-3500. Hours are 2 pm to 4 pm and 6 pm to 9 pm.
A Memorial Mass will be held Saturday morning, December 1, 2018 at Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, 980 Park Avenue, New York, New York. Photograph is from July 2002, from left to right: Robert E. Gleason; Harold Daggettand the late Thomas W. Gleason.