Tom Faughnan rises from the dead

Longtime Arvada resident holds funeral rehearsal party

Ryan Dunn
rdunn@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 11/2/21

The ghosts of the Arvada Cemetery weren’t the only ones coming back to life on Halloween this year. Tom Faughnan, a 90-year-old Arvada resident, rose from a coffin and danced around in the company …

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Tom Faughnan rises from the dead

Longtime Arvada resident holds funeral rehearsal party

Posted

The ghosts of the Arvada Cemetery weren’t the only ones coming back to life on Halloween this year. Tom Faughnan, a 90-year-old Arvada resident, rose from a coffin and danced around in the company of slightly bewildered friends and family members at the Arvada American Legion Post on Oct. 31.

Faughnan — and his 14-year-old dog, Teddy — were guests of honor at ‘Tom and Teddy’s Funeral Rehearsal,’ a mildly morbid celebration of life for the pair of not-yet-deceased companions put together by a few family members with a flair for the dramatic.

The idea began some 25 years ago, when a former co-worker of Faughnan’s called him up with a hairbrained suggestion.

“A friend of mine, Joe Murray — he retired down in Florida — he calls me up and says `Tom, you know what you should do? You should get a picture of yourself and go to the funeral parlor where you’re going to have your funeral and put a sign up that says, ‘Coming Attraction,’” said Faughnan. “That’s where I got the idea. And for 25 years now, I’ve had that in my head.

“I was only going to make the card. (Granddaughter) Faith (Richmond) helped me with the card, she did a really good job on it, it’s exactly what I was trying to have done,” Faughnan continued.

The idea didn’t stop there. Richmond and her friends took the concept and ran with it, planning an elaborate mock-funeral party that broke out into karaoke and dancing following the unusual processional.

“I’ve got a couple of people who are down to do something weird and silly and liked the idea,” said Richmond. “My grandpa has always been a prankster and loves to get people’s goat and say and do hilarious things in his daily life — big elaborate pranks on friends and family.

She called her grandfather’s party “his day in the sun.”

Much of Faughnan’s extended family — his eight kids, 22 grandchildren, 5 greatgrandchildren and a host of nieces and nephews — attended the party to take part in the procession and dancing that followed, which included ‘Roll Out the Barrel,’ ‘We Are Family,’ ‘New York, New York,’ and other favorites paying homage to the family’s Irish heritage.

The party was held at the American Legion Post, one of Faughnan’s — a Korean War veteran — favorite hangouts.

Faughnan’s daughter Faith Sleevi said that the reception among family members has been mixed, though many of their clan share Tom’s dark sense of humor.

“Amongst the siblings, we all have an off-the-wall sense of humor. Some of the nieces and nephews had some issues,” said Sleevi. “My dad it thrilled, and we all got a kick out of it.”

Aside from the festivities and elaborate pranks, Faughnan is hoping to impart some wisdom amongst the attendees.

“Who’s afraid of dying? We’re all going to die. I’m 90 years old. And Jesus, don’t you think it’s time — I thought I was going to die in my 70’s, and I flew through that and I flew through the 80’s,” said Faughnan. “And here I am with the 90’s. God, kill me if I go any further.

“We’re going to make it into a little philosophy, especially getting this country together. That’s how we’re going to end up, things like that,” Faughnan continued. “It’s about unity and coming together.”

The cherry on top, according to Sleevi, is getting to pull the prank with Faughnan’s similarly graybearded pup, Teddy.

“He doesn’t get along great with my mom, but he gets along great with the dog,” said Sleevi.

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