ST. LOUIS (CN) – Thomas J. Guilfoil, an influential attorney in the St. Louis sports and political scene, died Wednesday at 93 at his home.
Guilfoil was best known as adviser to the St. Louis football Cardinals, first as a force behind a failed stadium plan and then as an adviser who orchestrated the team’s move to Phoenix after the 1987 season.
He also worked with the Blues NHL team from 1986 to 1995 and was involved in a 2002 agreement that led to the construction of the new Busch Stadium, home of the reigning 2011 World Champion Cardinals.
Guilfoil graduated from Washington University’s school of law in 1941, working his way through school as a playground supervisor for the National Youth Administration, a New Deal agency.
He served in the Army in World War II as a bombardier for the 8th Air Force in England. He flew 35 missions on B-17 Flying Fortresses.
Guilfoil then joined the prominent law firm now known as Bryan Cave and entered Democratic politics. He managed several successful political campaigns, running the St. Louis campaign office for John F. Kennedy in 1960 and the state campaign for Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.
He founded the law firm Guilfoil, Symington & Petzall, which later became Guilfoil, Petzall & Shoemake. Guilfoil retired from active practice in 2002, but remained a partner in the firm.
Guilfoil grew up in south St. Louis and was proud of his humble beginnings.
“I don’t know why I wanted to be a lawyer,” Guilfoil told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in a 1986 interview. “It was a respected thing to be, I guess. I never knew a lawyer when I was young. I grew up in the Depression and (in) a pretty tough neighborhood. I was socially disadvantaged, I guess, and didn’t know it.”