Longtime Mahopac resident Tom Honohan will pull up stakes later this summer to move to Wappingers in Dutchess County, leaving behind a legacy of service and volunteerism.
“It’s been a rollercoaster ride,” Honohan said. “I have a lot of friends here, but I can still come to visit them. [The move] is a little bittersweet.”
One thing Honohan looks forward to with the move is condo living—no more backbreaking outdoor chores.
“They do all the work for you,” he laughed. “No more shoveling sidewalks or mowing lawns.”
Honohan and his wife moved to Mahopac in 1979. He had grown up in the Parkchester area of the Bronx and remembers a happy childhood there.
“There were lots of playgrounds; it was a great place to grow up,” he said. “The rents were unbelievable, which was great for the parents.”
He went to high school at Manhattan Prep (part of Manhattan College) and then to Notre Dame University where he earned degrees in electrical engineering and liberal arts.
His first job out of college was with Westinghouse Electric.
“My whole career was in sales—industrial field sales. I had a series of assignments that kept me in the New York area,” he recalled.
Then he received a job offer from General Electric of England (no relation to the American GE), which had its headquarters in Elmsford in Westchester County. He was living on Long Island at the time, so he began looking for a new home to better his commute.
“Mahopac was about a half an hour away [from Elmsford],” he said. “It happened to work out because we had friends there and we found a piece of property with lots of woods.”
Honohan was introduced to community volunteerism through his children and their interest in sports. He has four kids—two are now teachers, one a computer programmer and the other a mechanical engineer. He also boasts nine grandchildren.
“My son got involved in soccer when we were still on Long Island and I knew nothing about it,” he said. “So, I volunteered to coach and I studied it and got heavily involved. All my kids got involved in sports. So, when we moved to Mahopac, I brought that knowledge with me.”
Honohan got involved with the Mahopac Sports Association (MSA) to help get them more organized and he ran the soccer program for about two years. His work with the MSA led him indirectly to the library.
“When I was coaching, the guy who was helping had a wife on the library board and they were going through some renovation programs,” he said. “They were doing some relatively large renovations—lots of electrical work and I had some expertise in that area and felt I could help them with that. I was eventually appointed to the board and within two years I was president.”
Honohan was part of the board that oversaw the construction of the new library building, which was completed in 2002.
“I was involved with most of the process,” he said. “There are always a number of people who, no matter what, will say no. But people voted on it and said yes and we have always prided ourselves on that.”
Honohan said the nature of libraries has changed dramatically since he first joined the board of trustees.
“My motto is that the library ain’t just books anymore,” he said. “There are so many other things.”
Honohan cited the BAMM concerts, children and teen programs, blood drives and the Third Floor Gallery as just some examples of what the library provides to the community. He also noted that the staff has expertise on computers and other technology that they’ll share with the public.
“We have PCs, tablets, laptops,” he said. “Bring it in and people will answer your questions.”
Honohan said his wife once exhibited her artwork at the library’s art gallery and the space has been evolving ever since.
“We have fined tuned it over time,” he said. “We have a committee to make sure the exhibit is representable.”
Honohan has also been a volunteer for Putnam County’s Office for Senior Resources by driving seniors and veterans to doctors’ appointments and other activities.
“Putnam County has superb services for seniors and I found out they have a program where you drive to the county center and use a county car to visit older seniors,” he said. “Some are vets and there are some who just can’t drive anymore; I drive them to doctors’ appointments or to veteran facilities like Castle Point.
I found that to be a very rewarding thing for me,” he continued. “Instead of trying to solve their problems, I just listen and let them vent. I think that’s the medicine they need. I think it’s great that the county can do this. I felt it was spiritually uplifting and found it kind of rewarding.”
But now, Honohan says it is time to move in another direction and find some new challenges.
“It’s been 25 years now and a lot has happened,” he said. “I feel the need to do something else. I need to devote my volunteer life in another direction.”
And after signing the papers for his new home in Wappingers, he said he’s finally ready for that maintenance-free lifestyle.
“The pen is mightier than the lawnmower,” he chuckled.