Thomas E. McGraw
September 6. 1950 - May 1, 2023

Thomas Earl McGraw, beloved and legendary teacher, died at age 72 at Newton-Wellesley Hospital very early on May 1, 2023. At his bedside were his loving and beautiful wife, Celeste McGraw, and his devoted children, Molly, Jack, and Annie.

Born in Paterson, New Jersey on September 6, 1950 to Mary Fedigan McGraw and Kenneth William McGraw, Tom joined his much revered older brother, Michael McGraw, to grow up in upstate New York. Tom attended Weedsport High School in Weedsport, New York, and went on to the University of Notre Dame as a scholar and an athlete. Tom majored in English and earned varsity letters in both basketball and baseball, graduating in 1973. During his senior year, Tom was drafted into the U.S. Army and served in the Philippines, continuing to play basketball as a member of the U.S. Army team.

After his military service, Tom exuberantly pursued further education, likely inspired by his loving and formidable teacher mother. Tom obtained his M.A. in journalism at Boston University, followed by time studying in the doctoral program at Harvard Divinity School. During his formal academic pursuits, Tom also sought a breadth of life experience, working for the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union and sharing his smooth radio voice as a broadcaster in Fitchburg and Boston.

While Tom was studying at Harvard, he was recruited to teach English at Phillips Academy (Andover). Around this time, he met and married Celeste McCormick of Glen Rock, New Jersey, the true and steadfast love of his life. Introduced in Boston on a blind date by Celeste’s cousin, Celeste proved to be his equal in wit and wisdom. She was often on the receiving end of love notes over the years from Tom, always addressed to “My Beautiful Celeste.”

At Andover, Tom taught English and Classics, coached baseball, basketball, and football, ran a boys’ dormitory, and generally delighted those around him. He also taught two terms abroad, one in England at Marlborough College of Marlborough, Wiltshire, and one in Rennes, France with School Year Abroad. Tom was an incandescent human being, who shared his unrelenting and all-encompassing curiosity of natural life, literature, and art with everyone around him. He retired from teaching in 2013.

Tom loved teaching, and loved those he taught. Playful yet stoic, he found inspiration in the vivid adventures of The Odyssey, while at the same time he deeply admired the frequent gravitas of Homer’s text. Tom cited this passage as a favorite: “But the great leveler, Death—not even the gods can defend a man, not even one they love, that day when fate takes hold and lays him out at last.”

Tom is survived by his wife, Celeste McCormick McGraw of Westport, Massachusetts; daughter Mary Margaret “Molly” McGraw (Donald Morton) and children Eloise and Harrison of Townsend, Massachusetts; son John Kenneth “Jack” McGraw of Morristown, New Jersey; and daughter Anne Shiels “Annie” Vaganay (Arnaud) and daughter Juliette of Clarksville, Tennessee.*

Our job is to keep the stories going forever. As Tom would say, “It’s your game now.”