Thomas MasonNovember 26, 1933 ~ November 26, 2017 (age 84)
Thomas Mason, 84 of Naples, FL and Malvern, PA passed away on November 26, 2017 surrounded by his family. He is survived by his loving wife of 62 years Peggy Joy and his three children; Terry Sommese Corbett (Don), Tom Mason (Amanda) and Cindy Buchanan (Richard). He had 10 grandchildren, Kathryn, Christopher, Alex and Victoria Sommese, Julia, Jake, Kyle and Sarah Mason, Audrey and Maggie Buchanan.
Tom was born in Somerville, NJ and graduated from Somerville High School in 1951. His love of flying began during high school when he participated in the Civil Air Patrol. He went on to attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, graduating in 1955 with a degree in Industrial Engineering. While at RPI he was a member of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, Navy ROTC and he played football. He married Peggy Joy Montaque, his high school sweetheart, in June 1955.
After college Tom earned his Navy Wings of Gold having received primary training in Pensacola Florida, and advanced in Hutchinson Kansas, San Diego California and Hawaii. Tom and Peggy were then assigned to a Willy Victor Squadron for two years in Hawaii where Tom flew the Navy’s Lockheed EC-121 Early Warning aircraft. . After leaving active duty Tom joined a Reserve Squadron and returned to Somerville where he began his career in the industrial gas industry at Air Reduction Incorporated. In 1962 he was recalled to active duty during the Cuban Missile Crisis flying the Grumman S2F patrolling the eastern seaboard for Russian submarines. Tom continued as a reservist and retired from the Navy after twenty years of service as a Lieutenant Commander. In recognition of his service Tom will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
In returning to civilian life Tom picked up his long career in the industrial gas industry as Vice President of Burdett Oxygen Co. In 1982 Tom embarked on the second part of his career as Co-founded Airgas Inc. Tom and his partner, Peter McCausland, bought Connecticut Oxygen, the first of several hundred US gas and welding distributors which was listed on the NYSE exchange in 1986. He was instrumental in developing Airgas into a very successful many faceted multi-billion dollar company and the largest gas and welding supplier in the US. Tom also served in many industry associations including IOMA (International Oxygen Manufacturers Association) of which he served as president in 1996 and other industry groups. Tom retired from Airgas in 1997, and will be missed by all who worked with him in Airgas and the industrial gas industry.
Tom’s passions included golfing, skiing and private aviation. He loved to play the guitar with his grandchildren and to sing, especially at the Aronimink County Club piano bar amongst old friends. He traveled the world with Peggy at his side, from Botswana to Greece to China. He served on the board at Radnor Hunt and was a longtime supporter of Paoli Memorial Hospital. Tom was truly happiest when he was surrounded by his family. He will be remembered by all who knew him for his wit, generosity, devotedness, and the way his presence would light up a room.
A memorial service will be planned for the spring of 2018. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Tom's name to Paoli Memorial Hospital at mainlinehealth.org/phgiving.