Christian Community Action (CCA) founder Thomas Oliver ‘Tom’ Duffy died on February 6, 2017.
In the early 1970s, Tom and his wife Sally were part of a Bible study group discussion that inspired CCA. Starting with the restoration of a nearby widow’s home, the group soon took on a number of similar projects in the neighborhood.
CCA, based in Lewisville, later transitioned to a resale business model that operated four stores, which became the backbone of the organization’s mission to provide “hand-up” services to those in need through donations of clothing, household furnishings, food and financial assistance.
Tom is survived by Sally, and children Patricia, Brian (Wyatta), Mary (Mark), Michael (Heather), and Aaron (Khristen), and 18 grandchildren. He also is survived by a sister, Veronica (Paul) Iacovelli . He was preceded in death by his parents, two brothers and one sister.
“Tom was an incredibly committed man, who along with Sally, was focused on helping those less fortunate. Through his years at the helm of Christian Community Action, Tom and his team helped countless individuals and families transition from hopeless cases to self-sufficiency,” said Ed Johnson, former CCA board chair. “He leaves behind a wonderful family, and a number of friends and volunteers who will miss him. His legacy will live on with all of us.”
Tom was born July 28, 1941, in Dundalk, Ireland. After the sudden death of his father, Tom’s mother Mary immigrated to the United States to work, where Tom and his siblings later joined her. Despite the hardships of his early life, Tom did not indulge in self-pity. A true visionary, he enjoyed thinking and planning, as he wrote his manual on how to help those in need.
In CCA’s early days, Tom would see the “angels”, as he called clients, in the morning and work until late in the resale business. Tom often came in as early as 5 a.m. and had a very loyal core of volunteers, including Sally, who helped him with the business. His family stated that he never asked anyone to take on a task that he wasn’t willing to do himself, and he was remembered by employees as fair.
Longtime employee Alma Maynard remembers that Tom would become so focused on running CCA that he would forget other important tasks. She recalls coming into work one day at 7 a.m. to see Tom’s car parked out front with the motor running. After about an hour, she saw that the car was still running. Tom was writing at his desk, and had forgotten to turn the car off. Shocked that he had left the car running with the doors locked, he called the locksmith, who discovered that the back door of the car was unlocked all along.