New York’s Grand Marshal
By Irish America Staff
April / May 2004
When Thomas Gleason, 79, leads the St. Patrick’s Day Parade up Fifth Avenue he will be following in his father’s footsteps. His father, the late Thomas W. “Teddy” Gleason, was Grand Marshal in 1983.
A World War II veteran, Thomas Gleason joined the Marines at the end of 1941. He served in the Marshall Islands and the Marianas (from where the Army Air Corps’ long-range bombers could make non-stop strikes on Japan). Gleason was wounded in combat and lost a leg. Shrapnel from his other leg was only removed last year, he told Irish America.
After the war, Gleason became a lawyer, and he still practices at his Manhattan firm of Gleason and Matthews on lower Broadway.
Gleason’s grandfather emigrated to New York from Tipperary, joined the military and saw action in the Spanish American War. His father, the aforementioned Teddy Gleason, was the powerful president of the International Longshoremen’s Association for 24 years, beginning in 1963.
This will be the 243rd New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The first parade in NYC took place in 1766 when Irishmen from the Revolutionary War brought the tradition to the New World. The military units continued to march each year until after the War of 1812 when local Irish fraternal and beneficial societies began sponsoring the parade.
Gleason has long been involved with the Parade and is a founding member of the Knights of St. Patrick. He and his wife, Catherine Fahey, have nine children: seven daughters and two sons. ♦