Meanwhile, shrouded by the litigation and finger-pointing is the question that no one who knew Thomases seems to be able to answer: Why did a man with no known connections to the North Shore leave such a generous sum of money to this particular shelter?
“I think he felt very connected to animals,” Wallen said. “What I would wonder is why the North Shore animal clinic, because to my knowledge he didn’t have much of a connection to the North Shore.”
“He was a very quiet, private person, too,” said Ellen Donoghue, who knew Thomases for more than 15 years. “So it might not be something he told a lot of people he did.”
Thomases’ only known living relatives are a brother and niece in Italy.
It is possible that Thomases adopted a cat from the shelter at one point — friends say he only ever had one cat at a time, but several throughout his life — but Shapiro does not have any record of him adopting a pet from Northeast.
At this point, his reasoning for leaving the money to the shelter is irrelevant. Gifts such as his are what keep the shelter going, said Shapiro.
“Quite often we receive bequests, but usually not as large as this one,” he said. “Any time you’re notified that you’re going to get a gift like that, you’re excited.”
Shapiro said in an e-mail that the money will go toward the shelter’s spay/neuter program.
Friends say that aside from losing a dear friend, the saddest part of the story is that Thomases’ wish is not being honored promptly.
“I would say he would’ve been really disappointed,” Donoghue said. “Hurt, and frustrated.”