The late Sgt. Thomas “TJ” Tunney was a much loved member of the Wilton Police Department, a favorite of residents and Wilton business owners as well as a central figure on the force with his fellow officers. When he fell ill with cancer, contributions poured in to help him with medical costs. Sadly, he passed away in January, and shortly after, his family and his “brothers in blue” decided to honor him by donating the money that remained.
This morning, (Monday, June 27) his family members and the Wilton Police Benevolent Association fulfilled their desire to honor Tunney by donating the remaining funds raised to Connecticut Hospice. A check in the amount of $23,801.52 was presented to the Connecticut Hospice at a ceremony at Wilton Police headquarters and attended by first selectman Lynne Vanderslice, police chief Robert Crosby, Police Commission chair Donald Sauvigne and Tunney’s sister, Kathryn Tunney Mindlin.
Much of the effort to raise donations and later make the contribution to the Hospice was organized by Sergeant David Hartman. He spoke at the event about what made his good friend so special and how that legacy lives on even now.
“He touched a lot of people’s lives, and made a lot of friendships over the years. Look at the awards he’s received—the medal of valor, the chief’s medal of valor, Officer of the Year in 2013. One of his greatest accomplishments was the bond he created with people in the community. He was all about helping people. He always thought of others, and it is fitting that even after his death he’s helping others.”
Hartman also remarked on just how meaningful it was when the community returned that support in spades.
“I can’t say enough about the people who made donations and came out to help. The people in the community who stepped up with donations, by calling me with a story about how TJ made their life better. It’s been great to have the interaction with our community and I want to thank everyone for their help.”
The representatives from the Connecticut Hospice were also incredibly thankful. According to Hartman, they were “blown away, and besides themselves with appreciation.”
“The fact that TJ and his sister would think of them. The donations that people give them truly help them do the job, they essentially run completely off of donations. They really appreciate it. He was a special person and I’m glad we could do this for him,” Hartman said.
In addition, the Wilton Police Department has also given the number 23—Tunney’s badge number—to a brand new SUV that will be used as a supervisor unit.