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It is with great sadness that we share that our Papa, Michael (Mike) Tighe left this world peacefully on December 3.
Mike delighted in simple pleasures and never was one to seek the limelight. In that way, he did not wish to have an obituary that lavished praise on his life and accomplishments. We hope he forgives this last transgression.
Mike was born in 1936 to Peter and Bridget Tighe. He grew up in Somerville and often reminisced about the love his parents had for each other and their children, the mischievous adventures he shared with his brother Paul, and the way he looked after his younger sister Maureen. Mike graduated Matignon High School and went on to attend St. John’s Seminary where he earned a Bachelor's degree in Theology and a Master's in Divinity. It was at St. John’s that Mike met some of his dearest lifelong friends. After graduating from St. John’s, Mike served as a diocesan priest in the Roxbury community where he loved working with his parishioners. Although he was devoted to that work, he knew he wanted to have a family.
In 1969 he met the love of his life, Dolo. They married less than a year later in August of 1970. Mike took great pleasure in caring for Dolo. He was not one who enjoyed public displays of affection but preferred to show his love in simple gestures like finding the perfect present for every special occasion, making her dinner each night, and fixing her favorite drink. Anyone who knew Mike, knew how much he loved Dolo.
Together they raised their four daughters, Maureen, Christine, Leah and Catherine. Mike loved taking care of his family. He gave himself the nickname Mean Mike, but that never rang true.
He changed diapers, packed school lunches, drove carpool and played the role of the Tickle Monster. As they grew older his help was often solicited when writing a paper or studying for a test. They each took turns at trying his patience- prompting him to take deep calming breaths as he combed his fingers through his hair. But his patience, like his love, never exhausted. As his girls moved away from home and started their own families, Mike kept in touch with daily phone calls and check-ins, often just to say hello and “I love you.”
While Mike loved being a father, nothing brought him more joy than being with his grandchildren. He was their Papa, he delighted in their antics and was proud of all their accomplishments from learning a new song at preschool, to performing at a recital, scoring a goal, graduating, and everything in between. He enjoyed being with each of them and would find ways to spend time together like exploring the Boston Harbor islands, going to shows together, FaceTiming to see their faces as they shared their latest adventures, or sledding down Tom’s Hill in Vermont. Together with Dolo they also spoiled the grandchildren with vacations to Storyland, New York, Washington DC and Bermuda.
Family was everything to Mike. His favorite times were when all of his children and their families could be together. Whether it was celebrating a birthday, marking a holiday, or coming together for a special occasion, he delighted in seeing his grandchildren playing together, laughing with his four sons-in-law, and being in the company of “his girls.” We will forever cherish our last family vacation together at the Yellow House in Stockbridge where the Tighe crew gathered this summer.
Mike had a liberal heart and a passion for social justice that guided him throughout his life. He was an early advocate of civil rights and was proud to have participated in Martin Luther King's momentous March on Washington. In his own community he tutored immigrants in English, brought his girls to election night rallies, wrote letters to representatives in government on behalf of those imprisoned, and volunteered for several community organizations. This desire to build community steered his professional life as well. In his early years he worked for the City of Boston to help develop affordable housing. He then went on to Boston University and Northeastern University where he worked in government and community relations. He finished his career at Boston City Hospital where he advocated for the availability of automated external defibrillators in public spaces. Karma looked kindly on this work as Mike was the first person to be saved in-flight thanks to an AED on an American Airline plane he was traveling on in November 1998. He used this event and the attention it garnered to further promote the accessibility of AEDs. Mike’s final, and perhaps favorite job was at the General Store in Barnard, Vermont where he loved greeting customers and catching up on the latest events in their lives.
Mike’s retirement gave him the time to keep doing what he loved. An avid reader and a lifelong learner, Mike always had a long list of books on the wait-list at the library and a collection of books at his bedside table. He took pleasure in sitting in his rocking chair reading or looking at the birds who visited the feeders in his backyard. He took frequent walks in the Harold Parker State Forest where he took note of all the beauty within the woods. He also enjoyed volunteering for Neighbors in Need and The People’s Pantry. What he loved most was traveling with Dolo. Together, they visited countries and cities around the world. Mike would serve as a tour guide sharing tidbits of his vast knowledge of history, different cultures and current events. Upon their return they would love sharing pictures of what they had seen and encourage their grandchildren to take any opportunity they could to explore the world.
Wherever Mike was, there was sure to be some laughter. He had an awesome sense of humor and always enjoyed a good joke. He enjoyed the company of those who made him laugh and took delight in making those around him smile. He particularly loved the funny things his grandchildren did, especially those that came at the exacerbation of their mothers. He never lost this humor and would joke with the nurses, doctors and other caregivers while he made his rounds on Lunder 9 and 10 at Massachusetts General Hospital.
In his final days Mike frequently expressed how lucky he was. He was grateful for his family and friends and all that this life provided. He leaves behind the love of his life and wife of 53 years Dolores Doyle (Dolo); his daughters and their spouses, Maureen Twombly and her husband Darren, Christine Lusk and her husband Damon; Leah Tighe and her husband Mike Gladchun and Catherine Stoddard and her husband Mike, his ten grandchildren Bridget, Brennan, TIghe, Aisling, Isla, Ruby, Calla, Marlowe, Maxine and Frederick; and his sister Maureen Tighe. He was predeceased by his parents Bridget and Peter Tighe, his brother Paul Tighe and his grandson Cian Twombly.
At Mike's request, there will be no formal service. He also asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in his name to Neighbors in Need of Greater Lawrence
Neighbors in Need
P.O. Box 447, Lawrence MA 01842