July 7, 1939 — Aug. 9, 2019
Thomas J. Beatty had a long and successful career at Moog Inc., working on the team that designed and provided parts for the earliest American space flights.
But his life was distinguished by his passion for a wide variety of interests and hobbies, including astronomy, antiquing, baking, photography, wine-making, genealogy and finally, making and flying kites.
His immersion in these pastimes was more extraordinary because he had suffered from arthritis, particularly in his hands, since he was a young adult, said his brother-in-law, David Greenman.
"This affliction never stopped the remarkable man who was Tom Beatty," said Dr. Greenman.
Mr. Beatty, of Amherst, died Aug. 9, 2019, in Beechwood Nursing Home in Getzville. He was 80.
He was born in Buffalo, the son of Alton and Marjorie Beatty and younger brother of Richard. Mr. Beatty was a 1959 graduate of Hutchinson Technical High School, where he served on the student council and in Block T, a group for academic and athletic achievers.
He started at Moog in 1961 as a technician, then returned to school at Buffalo State College, graduating with a bachelor's degree in education in the early 1970s.
He married Louise Greenman in Buffalo on July 10, 1965. They raised their two sons in North Buffalo and Snyder.
Mr. Beatty retired from Moog in 2001 as a program manager.
Throughout his life, Mr. Beatty "was known and beloved by his family and friends as an extraordinary hobbyist," Dr. Greenman said.
He became involved in astronomy in the early years of his career at Moog. Not content to study the skies with commercial instruments, Mr. Beatty built his own telescopes.
He developed a keen lifelong interest in history, reading many books and magazines and watching documentaries. He had a particular interest in the American Civil War and World War II.
In his 30s, Mr. Beatty took up black and white photography. His brother-in-law said, "He built a darkroom in his basement for developing film, joined the photo club at the Buffalo Museum of Science, and won a number of awards for his pictures from that organization."
In his 50s, Mr. Beatty became an avid gourmet baker, making delicious pies and cakes. He then gravitated to making his own wine and collecting vintage wines, becoming, Dr. Greenman said, "a familiar figure at local wine-tasting events."
Around this time, Mr. Beatty and his wife, Louise, became antiques dealers. For more than 15 years, they operated Wingate Antiques, setting up tables and displays at various venues to sell antique housewares and small furnishings.
Mr. Beatty was also an amateur genealogist, researching ancestry information for friends and his own family.
After he retired from Moog, Mr. Beatty and friends formed a "ROMEO" group — "Retired Old Men Eating Out — which met regularly at local restaurants.
Dr. Greenman noted that Mr. Beatty's last notable hobby was his most impressive. "He became a kite-maker, designing, cutting, sewing, then flying his creations: large colorful kites of many eye-appealing shapes," said Dr. Greenman. Doing the precision work of kite-making despite his arthritis "was a great tribute to Tom's dedication, tenacity and skill," his brother-in-law said.
After becoming a kite-maker, Mr. Beatty enjoyed the companionship he found as a member of the Great Lakes Kite Fliers Society of Western New York.
Besides Louise, his wife of 54 years, Mr. Beatty is survived by his sons, Thomas and Dr. Matthew Beatty; two grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 11 a.m. Aug. 17 in St. Mark Roman Catholic Church, 401 Woodward Ave.