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Born: Aug 05, 1938

Date of Passing: May 14, 2022

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Unexpectedly on May 14, 2022, Thomas Joseph Patrick Farrell, passed away at the Grace Hospital in Winnipeg, Manitoba, at the age of 83.
Born August 5, 1938 in Pembroke, Ontario to Joseph Farrell and Catherine Farrell (Coyne) he was the eldest of six children.
In 1941, his father Joseph joined the Ontario Provincial Police and the family began the first of several moves through Northern Ontario, including Timmins, eventually settling in Port Colborne, located on the Welland Canal. The rich fruit orchards in and around Port Colborne and Welland were things Tom remembered fondly.
He graduated from high school in Welland in 1956, and began business studies in New York State while continuing his love of football by playing semi-professionally.
While his studies were important to him, his ambition turned a summer job at the International Nickel Company's (INCO) refinery in Port Colborne into full-time employment. In 1959, this ambition and the opportunity for advancement, lured him to a brand-new INCO mine being constructed in the wilds of Northern Manitoba. At the time, it was just a mining camp where the men lived in tents, but it eventually became the City of Thompson. He found his new home in the North, and loved the outdoors where he relished camping, hunting and fishing with friends.
In 1961 he met the love of his life, Marlene Jonsson, a nurse who recently arrived in Thompson after working in California. The two seemed destined to be together and were eventually married near Marlene's birthplace at Victoria Beach, Manitoba. A place that became deeply important to Tom over the years, as much of Marlene's family settled there. They began their family and their three children, Sean, Shannon and Paul came to be.
Family and friends were always a large part of Tom's life and the kids remember a series of family members coming to Thompson over the years and staying at the house while working. Visits and vacations to Ontario and Victoria Beach were ingrained in the family's activities from the start.
Tom started to feel like he should be doing more with his life and began to look to politics as a way to serve and give back to the community. He had some interest in federal and provincial politics, but his main interest was local community service, and he became a member of the Thompson City Council. In 1973, he decided to run for mayor, and was successful, staying for two terms ending in 1978, when he stepped down to focus again on his family and career.
In 1976, the couple bought their cabin at Paint Lake, near Thompson and for many years it was the getaway and focal point of gatherings for friends and family alike. Tom loved the cottage and the lake community, and both he and Marlene spent as much time there as they could. Weekends and summers at the cabin carried on his love of the woods and outdoors. Another passion was flying, and he studied for, then proudly obtained his pilot's licence. He continued his love of flying for many years and earned his float rating which opened the path to new, pristine fishing spots.
As he continued to work for INCO throughout his terms in civic government, a new professional chapter began in 1978, when he was promoted from the INCO Refinery to become the Superintendent of Safety and Protection at the mine. In this role he became deeply involved with the Provincial Mine Rescue Association and several other government and private safety and health organizations. His focus, even then, was the safety and wellbeing of everyone working in the mining industry, on surface and underground.
Volunteering was also at the heart of who Tom was, and he sat on dozens of boards, as a member or chair over the years. He joined the Rotary Club in Thompson, and carried on with that organization well after his retirement from INCO when he moved to Winnipeg and joined the Charleswood Rotary Club. Tom also had a long relationship with St. John's Ambulance and was made a Member of the Order of St. John for his service to the organization.
In 1989, Tom and Marlene moved from Thompson to Winnipeg to begin the second chapter of his working life, this time with the Province of Manitoba as the Executive Director of Workplace Safety and Health. While working in that role, he was seconded to act as the interim CEO of the Manitoba Worker's Compensation Board. From the WCB, he became an Assistant Deputy Minister in the Department of Labour and eventually retired as the Deputy Minister of Labour in 2002. During his service to the province, he worked for both Conservative and New Democrat governments under the Honorable Gary Filmon and the Honorable Gary Doer.
His third career chapter began when he retired from the provincial government and began a consulting and labour mediation business. He carried on in the private sector for several years working from Victoria Beach where he and Marlene built their retirement dream home. While at Victoria Beach, his call to civic service was again answered, and he became the Reeve of Victoria Beach before he finally retired from work altogether.
Although his working life came to a conclusion, he continued with his volunteer work with local seniors, most recently becoming the President of the Manitoba Association of Senior Centers in 2020/21.
Tom and Marlene celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2012. The passing of Marlene, his beautiful wife and best friend, in 2016 was a blow from which he never recovered. His family believes that his unexpected illness and passing was accelerated in part, by his desire to finally be reunited with Marlene.
The lasting ways in which he touched so many people through his years of service cannot be listed in a single article.
His family was always important to him and his strong ties to his four sisters, (Mary, Catherine, Isobel, Patricia) and his brother (Michael) never weakened. As well, his multitude of close friends, made over a long life, were cherished by him and he told many great and oft repeated stories about them right into his last days.
Above all, his children and grandchildren were the light of his life and he loved nothing more than to be in the middle of a full house or at the head of the table overseeing a wonderful meal garnished with laughter and love.
Left to mourn his passing are his three children and their families. Sean and Jackie Farrell and their children Aiden, Meghan, Olivia and Emma, Shannon and Dave Timlick and their children Connor and Kieran, and Paul Farrell and Denise Youell and their children Riley, Thomas, Lily and Maddison.
We cannot list the number of organizations and charities he was a part of, as there were so many. In lieu of flowers, please consider CancerCare Manitoba, a charity of your choice, or perhaps volunteer some time at a local charity or community group. His calling was to public service and it was a noble one.

Condolences may be left on his tribute wall at

Gilbart Funeral Home, Selkirk in care of arrangements.

Make a donation to CancerCare Manitoba Foundation

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on May 21, 2022

Condolences & Memories (3 entries)

  • In my 40+ years of working, I can count on one hand the number of good bosses I had. Tom was in that special group. Although he was the boss, he treated everyone like colleagues. As Deputy Minister of Labour, he did not just know everyone's name...he knew about the person, their families, etc. He was the personification of leadership and it was an honour and privilege to have both learned from him and known him. When he left the Department for the WCB, it never recovered prompting many of us to move on. Very sad that Tom is gone, but his impact lives on. Deepest condolences to his Family. - Posted by: Joanna Plater (colleague, Department of Labour ) on: May 22, 2022

  • Had the wonderful experience of working for Tom at the WCB. Always full of lots of stories. A real leader and gentleman. Condolences to his family . RIP. - Posted by: Don Paul (Colleague at the WCB) on: May 21, 2022

  • My most sincere and heartfelt condolences to Tom's family and dear friends, Tom served the community as an advocate for older persons. He always provided great leadership, compassion and a passion for those in their retirement years. He believed that no one should be alone. Tony Zienkiewicz Secretary Pembina Active Living 55plus. - Posted by: Tony Zienkiewicz (friend) on: May 21, 2022

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