Tom Hennessy spent 27 years as the staff columnist at the Long Beach Press-Telegram, and another six years writing occasional pieces for the newspaper. He died on Saturday from heart complications at age 80, the paper reported. “Tom had a love affair with Press-Telegram readers that lasted for more than 30 years,” Rich Archbold, the editor who hired him in 1980, said Saturday. “His Irish wit and charm came through in everything he wrote...He really was Mr. Long Beach, a city treasure. He will be sorely missed.”
From the Press-Telegram obituary:
Outgoing columnist Frank Anderson on Sept. 12, 1980, introduced Press-Telegram readers to Hennessy as the “handsome Irish lad fresh in from the sports editorship of the Detroit Free Press” whose charm and wit were “equaled only by his considerable journalistic talents.”
His wife, Debbie Hennessy, was known throughout his columns — and to readers — as “The Duchess.” She was by his side when he died.
Readers would come to know Hennessy as “Mr. Long Beach,” as the Press-Telegram’s lead columnist and tireless writer chronicled city life with pieces that were heartwarming or hard-hitting, depending on the subject matter.
“He was one of the greatest men I was blessed to know,” said Jeff Burroughs, a former Major League Baseball player with the Texas Rangers who co-wrote a book with Hennessy on the Long Beach Little League World Champions called “The Little Team That Could.”
“He was so unique and smart and so funny,” Burroughs said Saturday. “He would always bring a smile to your face and was a genius to work with.”
Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia praised Hennessy on Saturday as "a Long Beach institution, not just well-known in the newspaper world, but in the entire community through all the work he did.”
Photo of Hennessy: Press-Telegram.