A day to celebrate Tom Kershaw

BEACON HILL — Dignitaries, business and community leaders, and friends filled the main dining room at the historic Hampshire House on Beacon Hill to give “cheers” to Thomas A. Kershaw and his many contributions to Boston’s hospitality and tourism industry and the community.

A few days before his 85th birthday on December 1, 2023, the luncheon featured accolades from former
Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, City Council President Ed Flynn and state Representative Jay Livingstone. Boston news anchor Maria Stephanos, who worked as a waitress at Cheers, emceed the event. A tribute video shown at the event featured birthday wishes from Governor Maura Healey, state Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, New England Patriots Owner Robert Kraft, Red Sox President Sam Kennedy, New England Council President Jim Brett, and Beacon Hill Civic Association Executive Director Patricia Tully.

“Tom Kershaw is an exceptional friend to the City of Boston. He truly believes in the city and has always generously supported Boston and so many worthy organizations,” remarked Boston City Council President Ed Flynn. “Tom has provided invaluable leadership and inspiration in Boston’s tourism, hospitality and trade industries. We are proud to call him a loyal friend and true son of the city. Cheers!”

Kershaw’s long and storied career in Boston began in 1969, when at age 30 he purchased The Hampshire House Mansion. Over the past half-century Hampshire House has been a beloved mainstay for Bostonian celebrations, weddings, holiday parties, corporate and charitable events. The Hampshire House is also home to the Bull+Finch Pub which gained international fame when it became the inspiration for the hit TV series “Cheers” in 1981. Over the years, Kershaw has expanded the Hampshire House Corporation’s footprint by adding 75 on Chestnut, a bistro at the flat of Beacon Hill; a Cheers at Faneuil Hall Marketplace; and 75 on Liberty Wharf on Boston Harbor in the Seaport District.

Kershaw has been a dynamic force in the hospitality and tourism industry locally and nationally. He has held leadership roles with countless organizations including Massachusetts Restaurant Association, the New England Council, the USS Constitution Museum, Friends of The Public Garden, the Freedom Trail Foundation, and the Governor’s Advisory Council on the Visitor Industry. He has received numerous awards and distinctions including the Hospitality Hall of Fame by the Massachusetts Restaurant
Association; the New England Council Shining Star Award, Humanitarian of the Year Award from Project Triangle, and the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism Leadership Award. He served as chairman of the Board for the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau for 18 years and was recently presented with their Lifetime Achievement Award.

Nationally, Kershaw has served on the boards of the National Restaurant Association, United States Travel & Tourism Administration, the White House Conference on Travel & Tourism, and the United States National Tourism Organization among many others. He was inducted into the Travel Industry Hall of Leaders by the Travel Industry Association of America.

As a lifelong Scout, Kershaw is a committed member of the Board of Directors of the Boston Council of the Boy Scouts of America, where an atrium was named after him at their headquarters. Kershaw was honored to receive the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award and was the first inductee into the Eagle Scout Hall of Fame.

Kershaw has always given generously of his time and resources to myriad nonprofit organizations. Highlighting his commitment to the community, Kershaw founded Cheers for Children, a nonprofit that gives gifts to children who otherwise would not receive them at Christmastime and since its inception in 1980 has donated over $2 million to local children’s charities.

Kershaw has worked tirelessly to better the lives of those in his Beacon Hill neighborhood and the Greater Boston community. He created and remains chairman emeritus of the Beacon Hill Business Association. Honored for his endless readiness to give back to the community, he was granted the Beacon Award by the Beacon Hill Civic Association, for which he hosts the annual Greens & Garlands Holiday Fundraiser, helping to decorate Beacon Hill for the holiday season. Kershaw is also credited with the creation of another beloved holiday tradition, the Boston Common Frog Pond Skating Rink. In partnership with Mayor Menino, he operated and maintained the rink for its first 14 years.

The long list of Boston area organizations Kershaw continues to support includes: the Freedom Trail Foundation, the Boston Area Church League (BACL), the Byron Street Neighborhood Association, Sail Boston, the Esplanade Association, Save the Harbor Save the Bay, Bunker Hill Community College, and the Beacon Hill Women’s Forum.

“My life’s journey has been a great one. I have accomplished exactly what I wanted to achieve–owning and running a very good business with a whole cast of wonderful employees,” reflected Kershaw. “I have provided leadership in my industry and I have also brought my leadership skills to the many volunteer organizations I’ve had the privilege to be involved with. All of this makes me very proud.”

All photos by Bill Brett

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