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  • Boucher O'Brien Funeral Home

Thomas Francis McCabe 1953-2024

Updated: Jun 8

Thomas Francis McCabe died on May 28, 2024 at his home in Haydenville. Tom was born on August 9, 1953 in Everett, MA, the son of Marion and Francis McCabe.

Tom earned a BA in Theater Arts from U-Mass Dartmouth in 1975 and an MA in Theater from Smith College in 1977.

Settling in Western Massachusetts, he worked several years in summer theater at Mount Holyoke College. In the 1980s Tom founded and served as Artistic Director of The Children’s Theatre of Massachusetts, where he twice received New England Theater Conference’s Moss Hart Award for excellence in children’s theater. The annual Oz Parade was a seasonal highlight.

Tom was also a passionate educator and teaching artist. At schools throughout the eastern US he employed his innovative techniques to motivate and inspire children to become creative writers. Tom always encouraged teachers, librarians, and parents to play an active part of the learning experience. He taught his original Writing Across the Curriculum at the graduate level in addition to storytelling and writing workshops at Smith, Mount Holyoke, UMass, UConn, and other colleges.

Tom was a master storyteller whose venues ranged from a one room school house on an island off the coast of Ireland to the White House. He frequently performed at the New Century Theatre and, for many years, at Boston’s and Northampton’s First Night festivities. In 2002, he represented the state of Massachusetts in a solo performance at the Kennedy Center. Boston's Channel 5 dubbed him "New England's Pied Piper”.

Perhaps Tom’s most widely-loved endeavor was the creation of PaintBox Theatre, a unique combination of improvisation and imagination for the whole family. As Artistic Director, he used humorous twists on traditional stories including Mary Poppins, The Wizard of Oz, The Three Pigs, and The Little Mermaid, to create shows that were hugely popular with children and adults alike. Every production incorporated children’s art projected onto the scenery. Raucous audience participation was encouraged, injecting energy into the performance.

Tom also fully embraced the Santa Claus persona, delighting children in productions featuring Santa’s misadventures along with a zany cast of elves, reindeer, and a long-suffering Mrs. Claus.

A raconteur to his soul, Tom enjoyed nothing more than holding forth with a good story. He was also an accomplished pie maker, and his clam dip was always a huge hit at family gatherings.

He leaves his wife Anne McCabe; daughter Kristin and son-in-law Dean Powers of Florence, MA; granddaughters Nicki, Jillian and Lucy; sister Nancy McCabe and brother-in-law Richard Curzi of Watertown, MA; sister Mary Ellen McCabe and brother-in-law Richard Marcell of Fredericksburg, VA; sister Margaret and brother-in-law Steven Thomas of West Bradenton, FL; along with far-flung and beloved nieces, nephews, and their families.

There will be a celebration of his life at his daughters home located at 1140 Florence Rd, Florence, MA 01062 on Sunday, June 9th from 2:00-4:00 p.m. Storytelling is welcome!

In lieu of flowers, please consider donating in Tom’s memory to St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

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