Tom Flaherty was a dynamic and civic-minded businessman. His Irish parent immigrated to San Francisco where Tom was born, and, at age 13, Tom left school for his first job as a Western Union telegraph messenger. He earned a promotion, becoming office clerk at the district messenger’s office, but at age 22, his desire to travel lured him to Southern California. He landed in Riverside in 1898.
Flaherty tried his hand at various business ventures. He was a fruit packer for Oscar Ford, a retail clerk for E. Michellbucher, a partner with E. M. Kaufman in a retail oil business, and then, with his finances secure, he purchased an orange grove. In 1905, Tom was appointed collector for the Riverside Electric Light Department, and in 1908, he became circulation manager at The Enterprise.
Flaherty opened his own real estate business soon after, and his civic-minded pursuits included the city of Riverside Public Utilities Committee. He was secretary of the Johnson Wallace Club and the Republican Central Committee. He joined other realtors to form the Riverside Realty Board, where he served as president. At the state level, he was vice president of the California Real Estate Association. His real estate success created the groundwork for another business venture—insurance. He established Patterson & Flaherty, an insurance icon in Riverside for many years.
In 1913, the death of Elmer Holmes left a vacancy on the Riverside County Board of Supervisors. Governor Hiram Johnson appointed Flaherty. He was reelected twice then chose not to run and was again appointed to fill a vacant seat. He ran for the seat when it came up, but his own term was cut short when he died suddenly in 1939.
Flaherty’s home, built in 1922, was designed by Riverside’s most prominent architect, G. Stanley Wilson. The home, at 3498 Ramona is beautifully preserved. Tom also partnered with his son, Tom “Chauncy” Flaherty, to operate The People’s Finance and Thrift Company—Real Estate Loans and Investments. Chauncy, in 1934, purchased the former home of William B. Clancy, the first of the row of bankers’ homes on Mount Rubidoux Drive.