Thomas R. O’Flahrity was born smiling on May 23‚ 1958 in Madison‚ Wisconsin to Thomas L. and Jacqueline O’Flahrity. Tom was a 1976 graduate of Madison East High School where he was on the varsity swim team for four years. Tom loved swimming and he was a fish in the water. He was an honor graduate of both the USAF Fire Protection Technical School and the USAF Fire Fighter/Rescue Man School. On October 22‚ 1983‚ Tom married Barbara and had one daughter‚ Katie. Tom always wanted a daughter and when he found out that Barbara was pregnant he said‚ ‘We’re having a girl and we’re naming her Katie!’
Tom was very passionate about firefighting and was involved in all aspects of fire service from the time he was 16 years old. At the time of his death he was the assistant fire chief at Volk Field with the State of Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs in Camp Douglas‚ WI. He was a fire service/hazardous materials instructor at both the Western Wisconsin and Southwest Wisconsin Technical Colleges and a member of the State Fire Service Curriculum Task Force for the Wisconsin Technical College System. Tom enjoyed teaching immensely; he had a great ability to walk into a room and within minutes have everyone’s interest and approval. Tom was always willing to take time out of his schedule to explain things and share his experience and expertise. His energy and enthusiasm was endless. Anyone who knew Tom was aware of his Irish gift to gab and quick wit. As a matter of fact‚ he was talking complete sentences at 18 months of age!
Tom was also a Technical Sergeant with the Wisconsin Air National Guard 115th CES Fire Department. While on active duty‚ Tom died unexpectedly on October 28‚ 1999‚ at Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia. He was very proud to be able to serve his country and was honored to be a member of the Wisconsin Air Guard.
If Tom was passionate about the fire service‚ he was even more passionate about life. He was never bored with life and had a genuine concern and love for family and friends. Tom enjoyed hunting during both the bow and gun seasons‚ hiking and swimming. Above all‚ he loved the time he spent with his family. Tom will always be remembered for his smile and big heart. Tom’s greatest legacy is his daughter‚ Katie. He instilled his qualities of kindness‚ compassion‚ enthusiasm‚ loyalty and honesty in her. Thank you‚ Tom‚ for sharing your life with us.