Roche, T.C. Jr.
After a brief illness, T.C. Roche, Jr., of Fountain Hills, Arizona, formerly of Wayland, Massachusetts, passed away on May 13th. He died at home, surrounded by family, at the age of 82. Tom was born and raised in Massachusetts and, after the death of his mother at a young age, was brought up by his grandparents. He was a high school athlete and he often joked about receiving the dubious distinction of being voted "most improved" on the Watertown High School football team. The plaque hung in his bathroom for many years. He graduated from Tufts University through the ROTC program and also worked his way through by washing dishes in the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. As an alumnus, he recently attended his 60th college reunion. After college and during the Korean War, Tom served in the U.S. Navy where he served aboard the U.S.S. Newport News. As a frequent pipe smoker, when his ship was stationed in the French Riviera, Tom was known by the locals as "Monsieur La Pipe." For many years, Tom also served in the Naval reserves where he rose to the rank of Lieutenant Commander. His patriotism and love of country was exemplified by the image of him standing at attention at Memorial Day parades even after it became difficult for him to stand at all. Tom was a successful businessman, an avid golfer, a marksman, a self-professed "constitutionalist," a fan of an "occasional" scotch & water, and a member of many organizations in Fountain Hills including the Fountain Hills Mens' Club, AMVETS, VFW and the American Legion. He loved to travel the back roads of Arizona and to teach his grandchildren the names of the mountain ranges and specific mountains he could see from his backyard in Fountain Hills. When his grandchildren Tommy & Rhianna came to live with him, Tom also became host and 2nd grandfather for their many high school friends. To all of his friends at the dog park, Tom was an engaging presence who was hopelessly devoted to his singing miniature schnauzer, Sophie. Friends described Tom as one of the smartest men they'd ever met and not someone that you ever wanted to argue against or have on the opposing team during a game of Trivial Pursuit. As a well-read man, Tom was also a man of strong opinions. To know where he stood on any given newspaper article, you only had to check it after he'd read it to see what he had highlighted, crossed-out, or commented upon. He was especially knowledgeable of military history. But most of all, Tom was a family man. He met the love of his life in Marlborough, Massachusetts over 60 years ago when a beautiful young woman named Grace Lyons paddled by him in her canoe and called out "Hi, Tom." The rest was history. Shortly before his death, Tom told his son-in-law that he was a lucky man for a number of reasons. First, he had been blessed with a wife who had reached out and loved him for those more than 60 years. Secondly, he had been blessed with the love of his 5 beautiful daughters. Finally, he was blessed with devoted grandchildren who were among his greatest sources of joy. Besides his wife, Grace, Tom is survived by his daughters MaryAnn Roche-Gibbs, Kathleen Monroe, Nancy Roche, Janet Ceruolo, and Cynthia Roche Yares. He is also survived by his beloved sister Marjorie O'Keefe of West Falmouth, MA, and by many nieces and nephews. Tom was an individual the likes of whom this world may never see again. For all of us whose lives he touched, we are also incredibly blessed. Visiting hours will be on Thursday, May 17th from 5:00 - 8:00 p.m. at the Messinger Mortuary, 12065 N. Saguaro Blvd., Fountain Hills, AZ. A funeral Mass will be held on Friday, May 18th at 10:00 a.m. at the Church of the Ascension, 12615 N. Fountain Hills Blvd. Interment will be held at the National Memorial Cemetery, 23029 North Cave Creek Road Phoenix, AZ on Monday, May 21st at 12:30 p.m. with high military honors. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to
at 1510 E. Flower St., Phoenix, AZ 85014.
12065 North Saguaro Blvd.
Fountain Hills, AZ 85268
Published in The Arizona Republic on May 16, 2012