Thomas McCloskey, a standout schoolboy athlete and successful lawyer who spent most of his life in Lloyd Harbor, died in Virginia in April. He was 70.
McCloskey, whose career included stints as a homicide prosecutor for the Queens district attorney and later as an assistant to anti-corruption special prosecutor John Keenan, was inspired by seeing the 1959 Paul Newman classic “The Young Philadelphians” about the rise of an ambitious young lawyer, said his brother Edward McCloskey of Ronkonkoma.
“From that day on, he wanted to be an attorney,” recalled his brother. “He just liked the challenge of winning cases.”
McCloskey was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, and was the middle brother of three — the third is Daniel McCloskey of Cheshire, Connecticut. His father, Edward McCloskey, was superintendent of a plant that printed Playbill, the theater magazine, and his mother, Anne, worked for TWA at Kennedy Airport. After the family moved to Queens in 1955, McCloskey attended Archbishop Molloy High School.
His first love was basketball, but he was cut from the varsity squad, only to be recruited by legendary Molloy coach Jack Curran as a catcher and cleanup hitter for the school’s 1963 baseball team that won the first of 17 city championships for Curran. McCloskey’s exploits helped him win a scholarship that let him attend Fairfield University.
After college, he worked as a parole officer while attending New York Law School and eventually became a respected private practitioner with the Aliazzo Law Firm in Ozone Park, but McCloskey’s proudest memories were of his work in the public sector, his brother Edward said.
In the district attorney’s office, he became assistant chief of the homicide bureau. “He tried a lot of cases, and he was very proud he never lost a case in the homicide bureau,” said Edward McCloskey. “Anytime they had a trial, generally it was a very bad guy. He took a lot of satisfaction of putting bad people away.”
Keenan’s office, an outgrowth of the Knapp Commission, focused on all forms of public corruption. Keenan, now a senior federal judge in Manhattan, said he recalled plucking McCloskey for his staff from the Queens district attorney’s ranks when he was named special prosecutor.
“He was a terrific young assistant,” said the judge. “I thought very, very highly of him.”
John Salierno of Garden City, a law school classmate and lifelong friend, said McCloskey was affable outside of court but had formidable courtroom skills that made him a success as a prosecutor and later as a personal injury lawyer.
“He was a bulldog, Tom,” Salierno said. “He had a lot of stick-to-it-ness. You wouldn’t want him cross-examining you cause he wouldn’t leave you alone.”
McCloskey, who eventually moved to Lloyd Harbor, retained a lifelong love of basketball, his brother said. He played with friends into his 40s, led a family contingent on annual trips to first-round NCAA tournament games and could recite from memory every NCAA champion dating to 1939.
As he got older, he became a runner. He completed four marathons — running the Long Island race twice, along with the marathons in New York City and Boston, where he broke 3 hours. He also ran the Cow Harbor 10K and trained 5 to 6 miles a day to “help manage the stress” of his law practice, his brother said.
“My brother Tom was a good man, a honorable man of integrity, loyalty, sincerity and kindness,” Ed McCloskey said in his eulogy in May. “He could make you think that you were the most important person in the room when he spoke to you and always showed a respect for others.”
McCloskey died on April 24 in Arlington, Virginia.
He is survived by his wife of 46 years, Nancy; two daughters, Meredith MacVicar of Arlington, Virginia, and Morgan Cherish, who lives in Kenya; and two grandchildren.
McCloskey will be remembered at a Mass at the Church of St. Patrick in Huntington on June 25 at 9:30 a.m.