March 14, 1932 — July 11, 2019
Thomas James Caulfield filled his life with the things he loved: teaching at Canisius College and flying as a Navy aviator and reservist. But the foundations of his achievements, said his daughters, were his Roman Catholic faith and his love for his family.
Especially in their later years, "My parents' worlds revolved around their children and their grandchildren," said one of Dr. Caulfield's daughters, Jennifer Ann Van Petten. Dr. Caulfield was so devoted to his wife that he wrote a book, "Tennis with Camille," telling the sweet story of their relationship. "It was a love story about my mother," said his daughter.
Dr. Caulfield died July 11, 2019, in his home in Norfolk, Va., where he moved in 2016. He was 87.
He was born in Buffalo, the youngest of three children of Thomas Fabian Caulfield, a Buffalo police officer, and Lillian Frances Coyle Caulfield.
Dr. Caulfield attended St. Vincent de Paul elementary school, Holy Angels Collegiate Institute and Canisius College, where he was elected master of the DiGamma Honor Society, was co-prefect of the Sodality of Our Lady and tenor soloist in the college Glee Club. He graduated in 1954.
He joined the Navy in 1955, earning his Naval Aviator's wings in 1957, the year he married Camille Teresa Massaro in Annunciation Roman Catholic Church. After he completed active duty in 1959 in Brunswick, Maine, the couple returned to Buffalo with their first child.
Dr. Caulfield began teaching middle-school English in the Buffalo Public Schools while flying with the Navy out of Willow Grove, Pa., as a Ready Reservist.
He earned his master's degree from Canisius College in 1962 and, after being certified as a school counselor in 1965, became coordinator of elementary guidance for the Hamburg Central School District.
In 1969, he earned his doctorate in education from UB and began working as an assistant professor and coordinator of Counselor Education at Canisius College. He continued his career in the Naval Reserves as a patrol plane commander, flying several anti-submarine missions over the Atlantic Ocean. He served as the commanding officer of several reserve units before retiring in 1979 with the rank of captain.
In 1997, he was named a distinguished professor at Canisius College. Dr. Caulfield served as chairman of the Counselor Education Department at Canisius for more than 33 years before retiring in 2003 as professor emeritus.
Through the years, he served as president of the WNY Counselors Association and president of the New York State Counselor Education Association, from which he received the Distinguished Professional Service Award in 1988. He received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University at Buffalo in 2000.
After retirement, Dr. Caulfield resumed his involvement with the Naval Reserves, serving as president of the WNY Naval Reserve Association and eventually becoming president of the Third District of the Naval Reserve Association. He received an Award of Merit from the Naval Reserve Association in 2007.
Dr. Caulfield loved flying his four-seat Cessna and was a member of the Aero Club of Buffalo and the Niagara Frontier Flying Club. He also belonged to Amvets Post 49 and the American Counseling Association. He held life memberships in the Naval Reserve Association, the Retired Military Officers Association and the Reserve Officers Association.
A parishioner of St. Benedict Catholic Church for nearly 45 years, he served on the Parish Council, as a Eucharistic minister, lector, and a teacher of Christian formation. He prayed the rosary daily, his family said.
Dr. Caulfield loved playing the grand piano in his parlor while family and friends gathered around to sing, making his own wine, traveling abroad and playing bridge.
His family said that Dr. Caulfield was an expert storyteller who "always had a joke to tell, and his lighthearted Irish sense of humor brightened many lives. He hummed his way through life’s ups and downs."
The family gathered for many years at a cottage in the Lawndale area of Chautauqua Lake. Besides visiting Chautauqua Institution and teaching his grandchildren to swim, water ski and fish, Dr. Caulfield especially enjoyed the view from the porch, which was screened in a family work project.
Besides "Tennis With Camille," Dr. Caulfield wrote the book "Naval Reserve Officer," and many articles in professional journals.
His wife, Camille Massaro Caulfield, died in 2011.
Dr. Caulfield is survived by two daughters, Rena Marie Monti and Jennifer Ann Van Petten; a sister, Faith Marie Reilly Bassanello; six grandchildren; two great-granddaughters; and many nieces, nephews and cousins.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Saturday in St. Benedict Catholic Church, 1317 Eggert Road, Amherst.