Official Obituary of

Thomas DeGan

March 22, 1959 ~ February 15, 2024 (age 64) 64 Years Old

Thomas DeGan Obituary

MERRIMAC - Thomas DeGan, 64, of Merrimac, MA, passed away peacefully at home on Thursday, February 15, 2024, surrounded by and held in the love of his family and community.

Tom was born on March 22, 1959, in Williamsport, PA to James J. and Sally T. DeGan. Tom lived at home and attended the School of Hope from 1963-1967. That year he moved away from home to live at the Selinsgrove Center and then in 1971 went to live at the Laurelton Center both in PA.  Leaving home at an early age and living in an institution was difficult but unfortunately common at that time. With the help and strong advocacy of his family, particularly his mother, who served as President of the Board of L’Arche Boston North (formerly Irenicon), he was able to live in the community as a L’Arche member beginning in 2003. Despite living much of his life in an institution, Tom exemplified resilience, strength, courage, and dignity. Tom’s family gave him a home for life in L’Arche, an intentional community bringing people with and without disabilities together through an international federation that numbers over 150 communities in 38 countries. 

Though he was a man of few words, Tom expressed himself in no uncertain terms. He spoke with his whole body, and what words he said showed his appreciation for the good things in life: coffee ("happy!"), apple pie, pizza, chocolate cake...and, of course, "Diiiiiiet Coke!" Tom was a great candlepin bowler and a well-dressed, dapper gentleman with eclectic taste in socks. He connected deeply with music and experimented with playing several instruments, including the drums, keyboard, and bass guitar. He made us laugh in ways big and small. His deep faith showed in his devotion to Sunday Mass at St. Patrick's Church and his silent contemplation of a candle each night in prayer at his home. He loved to pack his suitcase and go on a trip, or just a drive to Dunkin Donuts.

Tom shared his strong emotions openly and was unintimidated by conflict, and yet had a great gentleness in his soul. He delighted in animals and children, calling them "baby" and laughing uproariously at their antics. His love for the people around him found expression in unexpected moments of tenderness: a tap on the back, a hug, a pat on the head or hair, a thumbs up, an approving nod, a breathtaking grin. Tom's ability to share a sense of acceptance, welcome, and belonging is difficult to express with words, but has had a transformative impact on the many people who had the privilege to share friendships with him. 

As our community remembers and celebrates Tom's life in the upcoming days and weeks, we give thanks for the deep humanity, authenticity, and joy he shared with us.

Tom was predeceased by his father, James J. DeGan; his mother, Sally T. DeGan; and his brother, James J. DeGan, Jr.

Tom's surviving family members include his brother John J. DeGan and wife Jacqueline Kelley DeGan of Topsfield, MA; sister Sally A. DeGan and her wife Alison J. Kirchgasser of Winchester, MA; niece Emily Le Guil and her husband Maxime Le Guil and their son Swan Le Guil of Paris, France; nephew Timothy DeGan of Sneads Ferry, NC; and his loving community at L’Arche Boston North.

Visitation will be held on Tuesday, February 20, in Sacred Hearts Church, 165 S. Main Street, Haverhill from 10:00 to 11:00 AM. Funeral Mass of Christian Burial will begin at 11:00 AM. Memorial contributions may be made in Tom’s name to L’Arche Boston North, P.O. Box 1177, Haverhill, MA 01832. For guestbook visit


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February 20, 2024

10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Sacred Hearts Church, Haverhill

Mass of Christian Burial
February 20, 2024

11:00 AM
Sacred Hearts Church
165 S. Main Street
Haverhill, MA 01835


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