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Shelter Island Reporter obituary: Thomas W. McGriel

Thomas W. McGriel, 73, known as “T-Mac” to his friends and family, died May 1, 2020 at his home in the presence of his wife, Kelly Nelson McGriel.

Tom had suffered a stroke, which was followed by cardiac arrest, and passed away despite the efforts of his former fellow Shelter Island EMTs in their ambulance.

Tom was a five-year cancer survivor.

Born in the Bronx on December 12, 1946 to Elizabeth (Burke) and James McGriel, Tom grew up there and attended All Hallows High School. He got an associate degree at C.W. Post, and after working for Burlington Industries, he became manager of an AT&T satellite store in Greenwich Village, where he met his wife Kelly. Together, they operated her restaurant for four years until they sold it and moved to the East End.

After leaving a 10-year management job at the Surf Club in Montauk, Tom and Kelly opened and ran Grace House, a Bed and Breakfast in East Quogue, for five years, where they made some of their best friends in that community before moving to Shelter Island.

Tom achieved a lifetime dream of having a maritime career, when he received his captain’s license and was hired by North Ferry. His family remembered that he would often say, “The worst weather day on the water is far superior to any beautiful day in an office.”

He and Kelly expressed their gratitude for the constant support General Manager of North Ferry Bridgford Hunt, and the whole company gave to him when he battled through lymphoma and the subsequent recovery period

His family remembered that he loved music, and his beautiful singing voice, and his undying love for his beloved New York Rangers. An avid reader, another of Tom’s passions was trains, which evolved after his parents gave him his first Lionel “O Gauge” set.

Tom has left behind a stunning train layout in his basement, his family said, which he called “Nelsonville” after his wife’s maiden name, complete with complex bridges and waterways, with boats and towers that he crafted himself, not to mention some very sought-after engines. This complex was all run by a single hand-held device, which is too difficult to operate for even his best fellow train lover, Tommy Graffagnino to operate, his family said.

Tom and “Tommy G” and their friend George never missed the annual York, Pennsylvania train show.

Tom is remembered as an excellent conversationalist, a good listener, possessed of a dry wit, and great kindness. He treated everyone with respect, his family said, and approached adversity with a genuine sense of equanimity.

Tom was predeceased by his brother John McGriel. He is survived by his wife of 35 years, Kelly; his four cousins, who were more like his sisters, Peg Cozzi, Angela Cozzi, Elise Cozzi, and her wife, Penny Sutter, and Marianne Cozzi. He would have wanted his best friends, with Tommy Graffagnino, Jeff Brewer and Lance Willumsen to be mentioned.

There will be a Memorial Service sometime this summer with the time and date to be announced.