Thomas E. Coughlan, 66, resident of Westford, died on Wednesday, December 27, 2023 at home surrounded by his family, rejoining the natural world that he loved so much during his life. He was the beloved husband of Carmela (Caruso), with whom he was married for 42 years. Tom was a cherished father to his three children and their spouses, Erin and Santiago Coughlan de Perez, Luke and Becky Coughlan, and Hannah (Coughlan) and Jorge Martinez.
Born to the late Eleanor (Ney) and Paul Coughlan on July 29, 1957, Tom grew up in Acton, Massachusetts. He and Carmela fell in love and built their life together around family. They loved culture and travel. Tom was a gracious person, devoted to his family. He was patient, steady and humble, quietly moving mountains for those he loved. Tom was known for being unconditionally accepting of others. A lifelong pacifist, he was gifted with the ability to see goodness in everyone and to radiate kindness in his gentle way.
Tom inspired his large family with his love for adventure and trying new things. Particularly because of this twinkle in his eye, he was beloved of his four grandchildren, Elijah and Adela Perez and Eleanor and Finnegan Coughlan, who would take him on romps to explore in the woods after reading storybooks together. Tom was an avid cyclist whose specialty was riding uphill, competing in the over-60 category of local races up mountains, including the annual race up Mount Washington. He loved hiking, and his faith informed his deep appreciation of nature.
Tom taught his family to share his wonder and reverence for the elegance of physics and the power of mathematics. After studying physics and engineering, Tom worked on hardware in the early days of computers. Later in his life, he was known as the person who could fix anything. Tom transitioned into software, working behind the scenes to enable our world to undergo the digital revolution. He was an early leader in open-source software, most recently managing a global team at Red Hat Inc.
In addition to his wife, children and grandchildren, Tom is survived and will be deeply missed by his stepmother, Joan Coughlan; his six siblings and their partners, Jeanne and Ray Elliott, Steve and Robin Coughlan, Patricia and Timothy MacPhee, Lisa and Sean Curran, Susan Klosen and Keri Tripp; his mother-in-law, Josephine Caruso; his five siblings-in-law and their partners, Antoinette and Joseph Sheehan, Mary-Ellen and Steve O’Donnell, Paul Joe and Jennifer Caruso, Maurice and Lisa Caruso and Anthony Caruso and Lisa Dolan; as well as many other family and friends. He is predeceased by his father-in-law, Joseph Caruso and brother-in-law, Steve Klosen.
Tom had a quiet humor; his precisely chosen words at the right moment would leave the room in stitches, and this humor was a blessing for his family throughout his two-year illness with glioblastoma. Tom’s family would like to extend heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Patrick Wen and his team at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute as well as to the staff at both VNA Care Hospice and Right at Home. Tom donated his body to Tufts Medical School to continue his lifelong support for the advancement of science.
All are invited to Tom’s Memorial Service on Saturday, January 6, 2024 at 11 AM at ALL SAINTS’ EPISCOPAL CHURCH, 10 Billerica Road, Chelmsford, MA, 01824. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Massachusetts Audubon Society: bit.ly/TomCoughlanMemoriam.