By Suzanne Besser
In a neighborhood where most everyone knows your name, perhaps the best known name is that of Thomas Kershaw, owner of the Hampshire House and Cheers, the bar that inspired the iconic setting of the television series. And the reason we know his name is because of his nearly half-century of service to this neighborhood and beyond.
It is because of this remarkable dedication to the community that the Beacon Hill Civic Association has chosen to honor him at its upcoming Beacon Hill Gala, the annual winter dance where Kershaw himself has often been seen enjoying an evening of dining and dancing with neighbors over the years. Now in its 46th year, the Gala will be held on February 3 at the Four Seasons Hotel.
“We are delighted to have Tom as our honorary chair this year,” said Keeta Gilmore, who is co-chairing the popular black tie affair with Deb Hanley and Frank McGuire. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to recognize his many contributions.”
Throughout his career, he has been recognized for his contributions within the New England restaurant and tourism industries. His numerous awards and distinctions have ranged from Restaurateur of the Year and the Massachusetts Tourism Leadership Award to the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award given by the Boston Minute Man Council, Boy Scouts of America.
Recognizing the needs of various nonprofit organizations early on, he created in 1980 the Kershaw Charitable Foundation, the sponsor of “Cheers for Children.” The Foundation raises and distributes funds to other charitable foundations that benefit children.
“Closer to home, Tom is always willing to open his doors and help out, whether it’s holiday decorating, neighborhood meetings, or just lending a hand,” said Gilmore. He was most recently seen wearing a Santa hat at the BHCA holiday decorating fundraiser, which he has sponsored for more than 20 years, and serving up pancakes at a brunch for volunteers taking down the greens. A former member of the BHCA board of directors, he has taken part in everything from its Clean Up Days to its long gone Charles Street Fair beer garden.
An advocate for our green spaces, Kershaw raised funds for the Boston Common holiday lights for a decade. In 1997 he created the Frog Pond Recreational Facility on the Boston Common and ran its operation for 14 years. He has also served on the Friends of the Public Garden board of directors and Council, and donated space at the Hampshire House to the Esplanade Association when it was first formed.
He continues to be generous in offering nonprofit organizations space for events and meetings; the Hampshire House has been the club house for the Beacon Hill Women’s Forum since its founding in 2013; his restaurant 75 Chestnut hosts monthly Meet and Greets for the BHCA.
It is the second time the BHCA has honored Kershaw. He was given the Beacon Award for his community service in 2003. The Beacon Hill Business Association, which he founded in 1981, honored him with a lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.
“The theme of this year’s Gala is ‘Where Everybody Knows Your Name,” said Gilmore. “While this is perfect since Tom is our honorary chair, it also perfectly describes this event where more than 200 Beacon Hillers come together for a bit of winter respite.”
The black tie event with music provided by Kahootz begins with cocktails at 6:30 pm, followed by dinner at 7:30 pm, and dancing and dessert at 9:00 pm. Maggie and Josh Leffler, Ali Ringenburg, and Emily and Clay Rives, co-chairs of the Gala Late Night, look forward to welcoming guests who choose to enjoy dancing and dessert only at 9:00 pm.
For more information or to purchase tickets, go to www.bhcivic.org or call the BHCA at 617-227-1922.