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Thomas Paterson Melone

September 24, 1931 ~ March 8, 2024 (age 92) 92 Years Old
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Thomas Melone Obituary

Thomas Paterson Melone, 92, of Watertown, MA died peacefully at home on March 8, 2024 with his wife of 57 years, Deborah, by his side.


Tom was born September 24th, 1931 in Richmond Heights, MO, and was raised in the St. Louis suburb of Clayton, MO. There he attended the Community School and graduated from John Burroughs School in 1949.  Tom was awarded a full scholarship to Harvard University — the only college he applied to — and graduated Cum Laude  in 1953. He earned his Master of City Planning degree from MIT in 1955.


Tom’s passion for city planning also began in his high school years. He would ride the streetcar lines of St. Louis all day, discovering new neighborhoods, and, as his mother, Helen, would later recall, come home to draw pictures of how to create more space for children to play. After graduating from MIT he began his professional career with the Philadelphia City Planning Commission in 1955, working under renowned city planner Edmund Bacon.


Tom moved to Chicago in the early 1960s to take a position as Director of the General Plan Division for the City of Chicago.  In Chicago he met Deborah Laine. After a whirlwind six-week courtship they became engaged and were married July 9th, 1966.


Together with Deborah’s daughter, Jessica, from a previous marriage, the couple moved to Washington, D.C. in 1967 when Tom was offered a leadership position with the Model Cities Program at the newly created Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  In 1970 they relocated to Boston, where Tom worked on a new urban transportation initiative launched at MIT called “Dial-a-Bus.”  This ride-sharing precursor was ahead of its time; when it was discontinued, Tom returned to HUD, this time in the Community Planning & Development Division’s regional office in Boston, where he worked until his retirement in 2008.


A lifelong film and theater buff, he was proud of his extensive collection of “Theatre World” books, and  had often seen the original productions they documented, as he spent his college vacations in New York City visiting his brother, actor and playwright Halsey Melone.


He delighted local audiences with his lovely tenor voice, performing opera and musical theater scenes with the Watertown Chorale and anchoring the highly-committed Christmas carolers in his Watertown neighborhood. Tom and Deborah shared many friends in Watertown and greater Boston and enjoyed hosting dinner parties and brunches at the Victorian home on Russell Avenue they purchased in 1972. Tom had an intense interest in his family history and pursued this through independent genealogical research and self-published family histories, both of his own and of Deborah’s family.

He was an energetic body surfer at Cape Cod’s ocean beaches, where the family vacationed nearly every summer beginning in 1971. After his retirement, Tom served on the Watertown Historical Commission, who honored him with their 2023 Historical Resources Preservation Award.

In addition to his stepdaughter Jessica, Tom had two children with Deborah, each of whom were greatly influenced by his interests.  His son Ethan, born in 1967, has worked in transportation and urban development in both government service and private practice, and his daughter Susannah, born in 1973, is an actor, director and playwright.


In October 2023 Tom was able to travel to St. Louis, accompanied by Ethan and Susannah, to attend the Centennial Celebration of the John Burroughs School, where his father Haley Melone had been a founding faculty member, social studies teacher and head of the junior school. Tom was overjoyed to be able to honor his father’s legacy — and was as delighted as his children were when he received a shout-out from fellow alums Jon Hamm and Ellie Kemper who hosted the event. Haley Melone had died when Tom was 11 years old, and the school provided a scholarship to allow Tom to attend, which was foundational to his future education, interests, and career, and, perhaps most important, helped him maintain a connection to his father’s memory.

All who met Tom carry the memory of a gentle, curious, and loving man who cherished his wife and children, loved the arts, honored history, and delighted in the everyday.

In addition to Deborah, Ethan, and Susannah, Tom is survived by his daughter-in-law Amy Calderwood, his granddaughter Grace Genevieve Melone and his sister-in-law Pamela Montague Melone. He was predeceased by his step-daughter Jessica Kavanau and his brother John Halsey Melone.


Tom will be interred at Mt. Auburn Cemetery; a memorial service will be announced at a later date.




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