Thomas William Mason – First Signee of the PSU DU Roll Book, Co-Founder

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Thomas William Mason – First Signee of the PSU DU Roll Book, Co-Founder

By Alan Piciacchio '89- DU Historian

Thomas William Mason (c/o 1908), was one of two men (along with Gus Cohen) who had the idea to form a new society, which ultimately was named Phi Tau. Mason was born on January 30, 1884 and claimed Wilkes-Barre as his hometown. 

Brother Mason retired from Penn State as a Professor Emeritus of Analytic Chemistry, after 38 years of service.  In his retirement letter, provided by his great nephew Kurt Moser, Brother Mason notes that he changed his major from mechanical engineering to chemistry, thus it took him one extra year to graduate. Although technically from the class of 1908, in his heart Brother Mason considered himself from the c/o 1907: “I’m in the c/o 1907, all right. I’ve been its secretary for over 35 years!”

Mason mentions that, in addition to carrying 40 or more class hours a week, he also served as a consultant to numerous corporations on water purification, which was his specialty.  Mason’s hobbies were stamp collecting and genealogy – he managed to accumulate over 15,000 stamps, predominantly those of the United States. As a fellow of the Institute of American Genealogy, he had traced his ancestry through his mother’s side to the time of Charlemagne.  He wrote and revised several books on analytical chemistry. Mason’s retirement plans were to remain in State College and “just take it easy.” 

Tragically, Brother Mason was killed within a year of his retirement, at the age of 66.  In his obituary in March of 1950, it was noted that Brother Mason died in Lock Haven Hospital of injuries received in a traffic accident at Lock Haven.  He was struck by an automobile while crossing the street; he was 66 at the time of his death.  It also stated that Brother Mason was a member of a member of a “prominent family in this section,” was a member of the Masons, and that he retired from the Pennsylvania State College faculty as Professor Emeritus of Analytical Chemistry.

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