2 min read
Posted on 03.03.12
  • 2 min read
  • Posted on 03.03.12

Mayor Slay's remarks at the funeral of Thomas J. Guilfoil:

I am honored to have been asked to provide some reflection on the life of Thomas J. Guilfoil, and I am very pleased to do so. Tom was a brilliant attorney, strategist, advocate, and orator. He was also an incredibly generous human being.

I am very fortunate to have been associated with Tom Guilfoil for the past 31 years - most of my adult life. Over that period, he was my boss, my law partner, my adviser, and my steadfast supporter. For the past 11 years, I was his mayor - an accomplishment of mine that pleased him immensely.

Without question, whatever successes I have achieved as a lawyer and politically, can be attributed in no small measure to the opportunities he made available to me and to his patient - and not so patient teaching. He said that effective advocacy was a lost art, but he had it and he passed it forward.

I consulted Tom on a hundred matters. Large. And larger.

I cannot recall a conversation with him that did not make me re-think some opinion, legal argument, or course of action that I had brought in with me.

Three years ago, on his 90th birthday, I named the conference room in my City Hall office the Thomas J. Guilfoil Room to remind myself - and my staff - that the decisions made there are only as good as the advice that is given. Tom Guilfoil gave good advice. To me. To his clients.

Tom was smart, and fearless, and funny - though his humor was the kind that they use to cut diamonds.

He said that he became a lawyer because it seemed like an honorable occupation. He made it so.

His legal and strategic counsel built banks too large to fail and moved a professional football team, breaking a stadium's worth of hearts. But it also established transit systems, reformed jails, and broke up predatory trusts. He was a general in the fight for civil rights in St. Louis. He was in a thousand battles in which the other side seemed more formidable. Yet, he generally prevailed. Necessity, he often said, gives you strength.

His strong life and career left an indelible mark on the law, on his City, and on those who worked with him.

Many men of Tom's seniority are remembered in nearly empty rooms. They have outlived their families and friends. Memories of them have faded. That is not the case with Thomas J. Guilfoil, whose body we send in peace from this place today, escorted by friends and celebrated by an entire city.