Sending our heartfelt condolences to the Halsted Family on the passing of Tom, the kindest gentleman and one of Gloucester’s brightest stars.
Thomas A Halsted, Tom, to all who knew and loved him, sailed out on the morning tide for the last time, on October 7, 2017, one day before his 84th birthday. Born on October 8th, 1933, he died of cancer. Now he is having a new adventure, sailing into the unknown.
Tom was a true Renaissance Man. He could do almost anything and he did most of them well. He was a wonderful husband, father, and grandfather. From the 1950s to the 1980s he worked in Washington, in and out of government, on intelligence, national security and arms control issues, including SALT I and II, the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and Nuclear Test Ban Treaties. He was a founder and the first Executive Director of the Arms Control Association and the Director of Public Affairs of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency under President Jimmy Carter. He served in the US Army for seven years, from 1954 until 1961, leaving with the rank of Captain. Tom was also a proud member of Nixon’s second enemies list in 1972.
Before moving to Gloucester, Tom served as a Manchester Town Selectman, a role which highlighted his life-long love for community service. He was for many years a Docent at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, MA, a role he loved almost as much as the museum and its visitors loved and cherished him. In every job and circumstance, he demonstrated his skills and talents as Sailor, Writer, Historian, Artist, Humorist, Poet, Humanitarian, Patriot (in an original, true sense of the word) and all-around brilliant man, who cared deeply about his family, his friends, and his country. The world is a smaller place without him. He lives on through his deeds, his family, and his friends.
He is survived by Joy, his wife of 62 years, his son Tom Halsted and spouse Deb Dole, daughter Beth Paddock and husband Simon Paddock, and four grandchildren: Mo Dole, Abby Dole, Zoe Paddock, and Emma Paddock. He is also survived by his siblings, Nell Moore, Charles Halsted, and Bella Halsted.
A celebration of life will be held at a date to be announced. Contributions in lieu of flowers may be sent to the Cape Ann Museum or Care Dimensions Hospice 75 Sylvan St. Suite B-102 Danvers, MA 01923
The Sea and the Stars
By Tom Halsted
Posted on August 21, 2017
The sea has always been a part of my life. Every summer, from the time I was an infant, I could hear the boom of surf bursting on the rocks below our grandparents’ house, the sifting of tumbling pebbles and the louder clatter of larger stones as a just-broken wave drew back before rolling forward again, the mewing of the gulls and the groan of the foghorn, three miles away. Salt was in the air I breathed, and sun-warmed kelp, bladder-wrack and Irish moss.
One of the first books I remember reading was about a boy who grew up in a lighthouse. I remember nothing of the story but this: his father, the lighthouse keeper, sternly told him never to refer to the sea as the “ocean”. “That word’s for maps and schoolbooks; we live by and on the sea,” he said. I have adhered to that sound advice ever since. The “sea” connotes strength, power, and permanence. “The ocean” is only ink on paper.
When I was 6, I was invited by a friend’s parents to spend a weekend at their seaside summer house, where we boys were allowed to sleep aboard his father’s schooner. More than 75 years later, I still remember lying awake in my berth, listening to the sounds of waves splashing against the hull, the creak of a line running back and forth through a block somewhere in the rigging overhead, and those thoroughly nautical smells – a mixture of varnish, mildew, bilge water, and tarred marline.
When I was 8, my grandfather set out to teach me to sail, beginning with basic seamanship: how to turn an eye splice, tie a bowline, come up on a mooring, feather my oars, and make fast a halyard. How to rescue a “man overboard” in the form of a hat or cushion he would suddenly throw over the side. How to tell where the wind is blowing from by feeling the pressure in my ears, and how hard it is blowing by reading the ripples and the whitecaps on the waves. And how to read the weather in the clouds, and always, always, to sense from the rise, the fall, and the onward thrust of the great long swells the power, the dominance, and the endless permanence of the sea.
For most of my life I have owned a boat of one kind or another, and I’ve sailed the seas with many others on theirs, both large and small, whenever I had a chance. I’ve sailed on the Atlantic, the Pacific, the Mediterranean, and the Caribbean. For years I kept a boat on Chesapeake Bay, and then on Massachusetts’ North Shore. And for 30 years I cruised the waters of Maine, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick with a good friend in his Friendship sloop.
He didn’t care much for high-tech gadgets, and we navigated in the ubiquitous Maine fog more by our senses than anything else: the sound of waves on a nearby shore, the smell of seaweed on sunbaked rocks, the moan of a whistling buoy or the clang of a bell, the cry of gulls overhead. We were close to nature, and we liked it that way. My grandfather would have approved.
In 2006, when he was 88, my friend finally sold his boat, and I did very little sailing thereafter. But I often think of a spiritual moment on a summer night a few years earlier, anchored in a little bay surrounded by uninhabited islands.
In the early morning darkness I had gone on deck to find the half-moon had set and the sky was afire with a billion stars. The Milky Way spread overhead from east to west, dividing the sky in two. The Big Dipper lay low in the northern sky, and the close-packed seven sisters – the Pleiades – glowed faintly over my shoulder. I could make out Cassiopeia and Polaris, and broad-backed Orion was shouldering his way out of the sea to the East. Dozens of other stars and constellations whose names I couldn’t quite remember looked down.
And dozens more looked up from the surrounding sea. Without a breath of air blowing, without a ripple on the silent waters, every star above, every constellation, had its glittering counterpart reflected from below. We floated in the center of a sparkling sphere of light, broken only by the dark ring of islands that defined the horizon.
Then the remains of a great sea swell miles to the south sent a soft ripple through the waters of the bay, the silken mirror trembled, and the spell was broken. But I had been one with the sea and the stars.
Screenshot of Tom Halsted Doodle