Ocean County Press Release
TOMS RIVER – Whether for his work as the former Ocean County Prosecutor or the Mayor of Toms River Township or as simply a good friend, the Ocean County Board of Commissioners recognized the public service and legacy of Thomas F. Kelaher, who died Sunday, Feb. 21.
Flags will be flown at half-staff for one week starting Friday, Feb. 26 over Ocean County Government buildings to honor the memory of Kelaher, who dedicated his adult life to helping others and creating a better quality of life for everyone.
"His legacy will carry on for years to come," said Director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners Gary Quinn, during the Feb. 24 preboard meeting. "He was a man with a heart that genuinely cared about people.
"I want to extend our appreciation also to his wife Carol and his entire family who shared Tom with us for all of these years," Quinn said. "His family truly supported his public service."
Ocean County Commissioner John P. Kelly, who serves as Director of Law and Public Safety, recalled closely working with Kelaher when he served as Ocean County Prosecutor from 2002 to 2007.
"He brought boundless energy and years of knowledge and professionalism to the office," Kelly said. "He was caring and compassionate about the public he served. His work exemplified the definition of character.
"As Prosecutor, Kelaher cared about the victims of crime and was fair," Kelly said. "He was a remarkable man that led a remarkable life."
Kelaher was also a 28-year veteran of the United States Marines and had served as the Mayor of Toms River Township for 12 years. He also served as an assistant prosecutor from 1968 to 1974. He was affiliated with many charitable organizations working to always improve his community and to make better the quality of life for all residents.
"I will always cherish the longtime friendship I had with Tom Kelaher," said Ocean County Commissioner Joseph H. Vicari, who had also served as Mayor of Toms River (formerly) Township. "Our families go back many years. We followed similar paths.
"We are both from Jersey City and attended St. Peter's College," Vicari said. "Tom had a wonderful sense of humor. We miss you Tom Kelaher."
Ocean County Commissioner Virginia E. Haines recalled Kelaher's work as a Republican State Committeeman.
"Tom was a great man who dedicated himself not only to the people of Toms River but also to the people of Ocean County while serving as Republican State Committeeman," Haines said. "He will long be remembered for his great service and dedication."
Commissioner Gerry P. Little, liaison to the Ocean County Veterans Services Bureau, noted Kelaher's military service, spending a total of 28 years of active and reserve-duty in the United States Marine Corps Reserves, retiring in 1979 as a lieutenant colonel.
"Tom Kelaher served our country with great pride," Little said. "His far-reaching commitment to public service has left an indelible mark. Ocean County will truly miss Tom Kelaher."