In Memoriam — Thomas J. Niblo

November 8, 1920 — September 14, 2010

Tom & Inez Niblo, Past Chairs of Rockland RTL

Tom Niblo, former chairman of the Rockland Right to Life Committee, passed away on Sept. 14, 2010, at the age of 81. Tom was a member of the organization’s board of directors at the time of his death

Although Tom served Right to Life in many capacities for decades, his passion was education and his mission was to spread the word.

When the legalization of abortion steamrolled over the laws and values that upheld the sanctity of human life in the early 1970s, information about the issue – its moral, medical, legal, and sociological ramifications – was not that easily come by.

In those days, Tom found his weapons to confront the assault on the defenseless: prayer (he was a devout Roman Catholic) and the power of knowledge. He began to collect the classics of the early prolife movement like Dr. John Wilke’s Abortion: Questions and Answers. He subscribed to many prolife newsletters from which he would copy and distribute important articles, and he made sure the Rockland Right to Life Committee had the latest brochures, slides, and videotapes. Whenever there was a prolife meeting or program presented to the public, there was Tom with his table of books and pamphlets.

And with his vast library of prolife materials stockpiled in his basement, he was ready to assist anyone who called Rockland Right to Life looking for answers or students who needed information on life issues for a school report.

Tom and his wife, Inez, were the force behind the Rockland Right to Life Committee newsletter, which many of you have been receiving for years. And I know a lot of you reading this today remember helping out as recruits of Tom and Inez, folding and stuffing who knows how many thousands of newsletters back in the days before we used a professional mailing house. And after the envelopes had all been sealed and stamped, Tom would sort them by ZIP code by hand, bundle them into long plastic trays, and deliver them to the loading dock of the Monsey post office for mailing.

If you were prolife and lived in Rockland County at any time during the past four decades, you can be sure that your understanding of the abortion issue was in one way or another informed through the work of Tom Niblo.

While many of us cycled in and out of leadership roles in Rockland prolife activity as family circumstances changed over the years, Tom and Inez were among the handful who were always there. Dependable and faithful, they helped keep the movement going even in the hardest, most discouraging times.

Tom hosted his last meeting of the executive board of the Rockland Right to Life Committee at his home just two weeks before his death. That was the last time I saw him. In spite of his poor health and the pain that had dogged him for years, he was always excited, full of plans, ideas for the next meeting, and resolute to go on fighting in defense of life for as long as the battle needed him.

And he was always defiant. He said that as long as babies were killed by abortion, the worth of the handicapped questioned, or the old and sick threatened by euthanasia, we – the prolife community – would never go away, never give up. And neither would he.
And he kept his promise. He was 81 when he passed away – two days after he suffered an aneurysm after returning from Sunday mass at St. Catherine’s. He had done what God had given him to do – right up to the very end.

Tom is survived by his loving wife of 55 years, Inez, also past-chairperson for many years of the Rockland Right to Life Committee, and by his son and daughter-in-law, Michael and Mary Ann Niblo of Warwick; his son and daughter-in-law, Jim and Donna Niblo of Cornwall; his brother and sister-in-law, John and June Niblo of Nanuet; and his grandchildren: Thomson, Erin, Molly, Joseph, and Elizabeth Niblo.

— by Liz O’Brien, Chairperson, Rockland Right to Life Committee