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Remembering Tomás

The People’s Music School family is grieving the loss of Tomás Bissonnette, who passed away peacefully in his Uptown home on August 9, 2022. Tomás was the widower of Rita Simó, who founded People’s in 1976, the same year she met Tomás. A beloved, passionate, intellectual figure, Tomás was deeply connected to the School, its students, families, faculty, board, and staff. Even after Rita’s passing in 2020, he continued to visit the School’s main Uptown site, maintaining relationships, and demonstrating his unwavering support for our mission. Our hearts are broken, but many fond memories of a dear man uplift us.

Francis Graffeo, President of The People’s Music School remembers a recent evening at the CSO with Tomás. “My wife Christy and I had the distinct pleasure of attending what I believe was Tomás’ last Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert with him. We picked him up at his apartment, and enjoyed priceless conversation in the car and all the way into Orchestra Hall. 

Tomás at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

“We talked about music, the CSO, Rita, People’s, composers, Chicago, his personal history, world politics, literature and more. Then we devoured the superb concert like a feast, and resumed the rich conversation all the way home. 

“As we dropped him off, we were visiting with him in front of his building, his eyes welled with tears as he opened his heart to let us know how much he loved the evening, and how he appreciated the time we had spent with him. “I’m so very happy,” he said with an embrace as his voice broke. I will never forget that precious evening and that moment in our lives together.”

The funeral service for Tomás is scheduled for Wednesday evening, August 17th  in St. Gertrude Church, Chicago, with the visitation at 6:00pm and the service at 7:00pm. Joe Mulligan, the priest who married Tomás and Rita, will be presiding, and performers from The People’s Music School will play music.

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