Thomas Barrett Leary died at home surrounded by his family, including his beloved wife, Stephanie, on May 21, 2021. He was 89.
The son of Daniel and Margaret (Barrett) Leary, Tom grew up in New Jersey with two older brothers and two younger sisters. He graduated with a degree in economics from Princeton University in 1952, and promptly went to the Naval Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island. He was commissioned in October and, after six months of further training to qualify as an air intelligence officer, he reported to Fighter Squadron 123, based at Miramar Naval Air Station in San Diego, California.
In June of 1953, shortly after his arrival, Tom met Stephanie Lynn Abbott, a Navy junior who had just graduated from Coronado High School. Thus, Tom’s lifelong love for Stephanie and his fondness for life in Coronado began. In later years, he often said: “When I first saw Coronado, I could not understand why anyone with a choice would live anywhere else.”
After an eight-month deployment to the western Pacific aboard the USS Essex, Tom and Stephanie were married at the North Island Naval Air Station chapel on Dec. 18, 1954. Shortly after, he returned to the western Pacific aboard the USS Philippine Sea, but was released from active duty in time to enter Harvard Law School in the fall of 1955.
Tom graduated from Harvard with high honors and embarked on a legal career that lasted for over 50 years. He was always an antitrust lawyer, but Tom practiced that specialty in a number of different places. He was a partner in two major law firms: White & Case in New York City and Hogan Lovells in Washington, D.C. Tom also served as assistant general counsel for General Motors in Detroit, Michigan. In 1999 he was appointed by President Clinton to fill a Republican commissioner slot on the Federal Trade Commission. Tom’s ability to work amiably with members of both political parties was widely recognized. He published over 30 articles and received three major awards for lifetime contributions to the development of antitrust law.
Tom and Stephanie bought a vacation house in the Coronado Cays in 1999, but their principal residence was in Washington, D.C. In 2010, they sold the D.C. house and began to live full time in Coronado. They both became active in various charitable and social organizations and particularly enjoyed the Crown Dance Club and all of their friends and events at the Coronado Cays Yacht Club. Tom was a member of a local writers’ group and wrote a book about his professional life entitled, “The Education of an Accidental Lawyer: Told in True Stories.” He also served as a docent on the USS Midway Museum and as a lector at Sacred Heart Church.
Although Tom spent most of his life in the Northeast and the Midwest, he always said that Coronado is the place where he felt most at home. His love of ocean adventures continued throughout his life. He traveled with his family and friends on a total of 23 cruises, seeing the Panama Canal, Asia, South America, the Caribbean, Europe, and more.
Tom and Stephanie were blessed with three children, Thomas Abbott Leary, David Abbott (Kelly Anne) Leary, and Alison Leary Estep; and three grandchildren Erin Rose Leary, Barrett Robert (Katarina Krueger) Estep, and Lauren Kennedy Estep. He is also survived by his two sisters, Mary Caroline Leary Clark and Margot Leary Badenhausen. He was preceded in death by his brothers Daniel Andrew Leary Jr. and Charles Barrett Leary.
A service is planned for a future date. Any donations in tribute to Tom would be gratefully received by his favorite local boutique theatre, Lamb’s Players, www.lambsplayers.org.