Remembering Tommy O’Donnell

Teamsters recently lost one of their top retired leaders when Thomas R. O’Donnell passed away. His career spanned more than 60 years and his impact is still being felt today.

O’Donnell is considered one of the most influential men to ever work in the television and motion picture industry. However, his true legacy may lay with the scholarship program he launched in 1965 that pays for the college tuition and board of every child of Local 817 members.

“When it came to the members, my father always believed in reaching for the stars,” said son Thomas J. O’Donnell, President of Local 817 in Lake Success, N.Y., during an event last year honoring O’Donnell. “And it was somewhere amongst the stars that he came up with the novel concept of sending the members’ kids to college for free.”

“Teamsters everywhere, especially those in the Motion Picture and Theatrical Trade Division, mourn the passing of a great Teamster leader,” said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters General President.

Over his 62-year career as a Teamster, O’Donnell spent 50 years as the head of Theatrical Teamsters Local 817, served as Director of the Teamsters Motion Picture and Theatrical Trade Division and was elected to two terms as an International Vice President At-Large.