Laffey Real Estate founder dies at 81

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Tom Laffey, founder of Laffey Real Estate, one of the biggest firms on Long Island, died last week at 81 (Photo courtesy of the Laffey family).

Laffey Real Estate founder Thomas Laffey, a longtime Williston Park resident, has died at age 81. 

Laffey died of natural causes on Aug. 14 at St. Francis Hospital in Flower Hill, his son Emmett said in a phone call with Blank Slate Media.

An Irish citizen who emigrated to New York in 1956 at 17, Laffey made a name for himself as the founder of Laffey Real Estate, which now comprises 15 offices on Long Island and in Queens. 

Laffey began his real estate career as an agent in Floral Park. Upon marrying his wife, fellow Irish immigrant Eileen O’Grady, he purchased a home in Williston Park in the late 1960s and founded his company in 1970.

Emmett Laffey and two of his brothers joined their father’s firm at age 18.

“It was part of our day-to-day life. Real estate, buying houses, was in our DNA,” Emmett Laffey said.

In addition to his wife, Laffey is survived by his sons Phillip, Emmett, Mark, Brian and Desmond, and nine grandchildren. 

A funeral service was held on Tuesday at St. Aidan’s Parish in Williston Park. 

Laffey said his father was described at the ceremony as “a pioneer, a maverick and a legend.” 

The family as a whole will soon travel to Laffey’s homeland for a burial in Connemara, Galway, Emmett Laffey said.

“He’ll be put to rest in the community where his family’s been for hundreds of years,” Emmett Laffey said. “He will be buried next to his parents.”

While he will be buried in Ireland, his son said, Laffey still thought of the United States as “God’s country.”

“He is your quintessential American success story from a farm in Ireland,” Emmett Laffey said. “He arrived here in New York, built his company, business and family and lived the American dream as it was supposed to be lived.”

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