Thomas C. Marfisi Obituary 1/14/19 01/14/19 10:50:48 AM
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Thomas C. MarfisiHis Legacy Is Peacekeeper
Aug. 11, 1947 – Dec. 31, 2018
Tom Marfisi represented a kinder, gentler kind of governing in Omaha. He got along with everyone.
Marfisi served under mayors of both parties, 10 of them in all, from his hiring by Mike Boyle in the ’80s to his retirement under Jim Suttle in 2011. He spent those years negotiating contracts with police and firefighters and civilian employees, all while maintaining their respect and admiration.
Retiring seven years ago as the City of Omaha’s labor relations director, he had set the standard for fairness and sensitivity.
Boyle said he knew Marfisi’s work in Sarpy County as a labor lawyer, arguing for both sides, and decided to recruit him for the city. “He was out-of-this-world,” Boyle said. “He was one of life’s great characters. He was a generous, nice man.”
Boyle said he used to end his meeting with the question, “Is there anything you hope I don’t ask you?” He said Marfisi would always roll his eyes, and answer the question. “He hated that question!”
Not only was he an employee, but he was a good friend, Boyle said. “And those meals! He would prepare them at his home and invite everyone involved after labor negotiations. So good. He was an Italian with an Irish mother. He was very proud of that.”
Boyle laughed as he recalled one incident.
“Tom lived just down the block from me and one night he pulled into my driveway to rearrange something in his car. It went on for some time and finally a police cruiser pulled up and asked him what he was doing there. Afterward, he said, ‘Jeez Mike, thanks for calling the cops on me.’”
Retired Douglas County Human Resources Director Lee Lazure recalled that Marfisi not only negotiated with the city’s unions, but at one time also negotiated with the county’s 17 unions as well.
“We worked together on a project to try to bring our hiring practices out of the dark ages,” he said. “We researched a number of online application systems, but couldn’t find one that was affordable. But we tried. After that, I’d see him in the building from time to time and he was always a nice guy,” Lazure said.
Marfisi was a graduate of Creighton Prep, Creighton University and Creighton School of Law.
Bill Miskell wrote this tribute on the website for Heafey Hoffman Dworak & Cutler, “I have such great memories working with Tom at the City; me as the Finance Director and Tom as the Personnel Director. We had such a close relationship that we could disagree yet always respect each other’s opinion. Tom was such a great storyteller – I would revel in the descriptions he gave. Then there was golf – we always had a great time on the course needling one another and enjoying the game. Since my move to KC, I would talk to Tom every year or two but whenever we did talk, we just took right up like we had never been in different cities. Tom, I will miss that I cannot pick up the phone and call you.”
Tom died on New Year’s Eve after a long illness. He was 71. He is survived by his son John; daughter Anne; brother Jerry; and two grandchildren.
Services were held Jan. 5, 2019. Memorials are suggested to one of his favorite interests, Film Streams.
– By Lorraine Boyd