Hon. Thomas William O'Toole
1938 - 2016
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Hon. Thomas William O'Toole

Hon. Thomas William O'Toole of Phoenix, Arizona passed away October 13, 2016 at age 78. Born April 12, 1938 in Marshalltown, Iowa, Judge Thomas W. O'Toole (Tom) was the first of four sons born to Dr. Roger L. O'Toole and Emily Fisher O'Toole Cartwright.

A long-time resident of Phoenix, Tom moved to the valley in 1956 prior to attending the University of Notre Dame (Economics, 1960). Following his degree from the University of Arizona Law School (1966), Tom served Arizona as Assistant Federal Public Defender (1971-1976) and Federal Public Defender for the District of Arizona (1976-1984), notably arguing a case before the United States Supreme Court in 1977.

As a testament to his stewardship and integrity, Tom was appointed Judge, Maricopa Superior Court by Governor Bruce Babbitt in 1984, where he continued to serve Arizona for 24 years until retirement in 2008. His peers remember him as a fair and compassionate jurist of balanced moral character, administering justice fairly and efficiently. Outside the courtroom, Tom was proud to officiate numerous weddings and boasted of his high "success rate". He was a one of a kind family man who brought a quiet sense of joy and peace to all who knew him. This past summer, he and his wife, Elaine, celebrated 50 years of marriage, surrounded by their children and grandchildren on an Alaskan cruise.

Family & friends remember him as a loving husband, caring father, devoted Catholic, superb athlete, and Good Samaritan, who championed humanitarian causes such as: Boys Hope Girls Hope of AZ, Forest Highlands Foundation (Flagstaff), Notre Dame Law School Advisory Council, and Martha-Ellen Tye Foundation (Marshalltown, IA).

As a sportsman, Tom was a naturally gifted and fiery competitor. Though he never 'shot his age', nor did he ever have a hole-in-one, Tom was a life-long lover of golf. Key to his magnetism was Tom's dry sense of humor. He surely would be noting that the Notre Dame Football team is on a bye week for his funeral. Captain of his own ship, many sought his counsel in times of distress, his character always a 'sturdy rudder' for those in need.

Preceded in death by his parents, as well as his brother John T. O'Toole, Tom is survived by his wife, Elaine Senini O'Toole, his two brothers, Dennis O'Toole (Trudy) and Michael O'Toole (Noreen), his 4 sons, Nicholas (Megan), John (Sofía), Ryan (Minjeong) and Matthew (Anna), and 4 grandchildren, Lulu, Carleton, Velouria and Simón Tomás.

Visitation will be held from 6:00pm-8:00pm with a Rosary at 7:00pm, Friday, October 21, 2016 at Whitney & Murphy Funeral Home, 4800 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, AZ 85018. A Memorial Mass will be celebrated at 12:30pm, with a reception following on Saturday, October 22, 2016 at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, 4715 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85012.

Donations can be made to: Notre Dame Law School, Judge Thomas O'Toole Memorial, 1341 Biolchini Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556 or Boys Hope Girls Hope of Arizona, 3443 N. Central Avenue, #7, Phoenix, AZ 85012.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Arizona Republic from Oct. 19 to Oct. 20, 2016.
06:00 - 08:00 PM
Memories & Condolences
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13 entries
October 26, 2016

I was saddened to learn of Tom's passing. He taught me a lot even though we never practiced law together. As a law clerk to Judge Carl Muecke in 1969 I had the privilege of watching Tom provide outstanding representation to impoverished federal criminal defendants time after time. He was later an outstanding judge in his own right.

He also had a wicked drive to the basket in YMCA noon basketball pickup games.

In short, he was a mensch. He will be sorely missed.

Marshall Lehman
Marshall Lehman
October 25, 2016
I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your loved one. May the hope of everlasting life sustain and comfort you during this difficult time. (John 17:3)
October 25, 2016
So sorry to hear this sad news. Judge O'Toole was simply THE BEST. He treated everyone (including staff) in the judicial process with respect. He was a no-nonsense kind of guy. As a criminal manager, I could go to him for questions big and small, and he would ALWAYS make sure that my questions were answered.
Pamela Woods
October 22, 2016
Dear Elaine,

We learned of Tom's passing this afternoon and send our prayers and condolences to you and your family.

Lucy and Steve Howell
October 22, 2016
When Tom and I first met, he was a young Federal Public Defender. I liked and admired him right off and came to love him and everything he and Elaine stood for. Mike Dann
Mike Dann
October 21, 2016
I thought of Tom as one of the brightest lights of downtown Phoenix. He was a top defense attorney and then became a strong, intelligent and fair- minded judge. He blessed us with a great sense of humor and reminded us that "street' smarts usually beats 'book' smarts.

Vaya con dios, hermano.
Dave Derickson
October 20, 2016
Dear Elaine,
What a strong moral compass the 2 of you set for so many....May God bless and keep you.
Posey Moore Nash
October 19, 2016
Eric J. Halvorson
October 19, 2016
He was an honorable jurist for whom I have great respect.
Ted Crews
October 19, 2016
My very first days as a young public defender were spent in his court every day. He made me a better lawyer and advocate. He held me to the highest standards. There was no such thing as a "public pretender" in his court. He expected effective representation for defendants appearing in his court. I appreciated his candor, his exacting standards, and his fairness. Although, I couldn't stand the Fighting Irish, he didn't hold it against me! LOL.

I thank G-d for being in his court.
Victoria Washington
October 19, 2016
Mrs. O'Toole, I babysat for your family so many years ago when Nick and John were still babies. I've thought of you all many times, and was saddened to hear this news. Sending love to you and your wonderful family - I'm so sorry.
Nan Riikola Burton
October 19, 2016
My deepest and sincerest thoughts and prayers to Judge O'Toole's family. I was truly blessed to have handled many cases before him early in my law career and he was always by far the fairest, kindest, most humorous and most honorable judge I've ever had the privilege to practice before. The bench lost a great deal when he retired, and he will be remembered fondly.

Anne Phillips
Maricopa County Office of the Legal Defender
October 19, 2016
My heartfelt condolence to you Elaine and family. I was saddened to hear of the passing of Tom. Sending up prayers for you and your beautiful family.
Gwen Nielsen
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