Tom Musser, pillar of community, mourned

W. Thomas Musser, a beloved and pioneering entrepreneur, lost a hard-fought battle with brain cancer on Saturday, July 9, at his Kennett Square home. He was 81.

Tom Musser

Tom Musser

A lifelong Chester County resident, Tom Musser was the chairman and founder of The Tri-M Group, LLC, and a frequent contributor of time and resources to a variety of nonprofits. He was the husband of Bonnie Anderson Musser with whom he shared 52 years of marriage.

He transformed the Tri-M Group LLC – eponymously named for the three Musser brothers, Tom, Dick and Harry – into one of the leading electrical solutions providers in the eastern U.S. Founded in 1964, the Kennett Square-based electrical contracting company has served the likes of DuPont, JP Morgan Chase, Comcast, and Halliburton.

Tom Musser acquired ownership of Tri-M early in its history and grew the company into a respected, successful operation that now employs more than 400 people. The leadership skills he honed during that process led to a variety of appointments, including with the Associated Builders and Contractors, where his posts included national chairman.

He also served as chairman of the board of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), a 325,000-member association of small and independent business owners across the U.S.; vice chair of the U.S. Naval Institute; and on the Department of Defense Advisory Board for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. He was a past board member of the Conard-Pyle Company and the Chester County Hospital Foundation.

Tom Musser was also chairman and founder of EnerG Test, LLC with offices in Allentown; Lock Haven; Middletown, Del.; and Baltimore, Md. This past year alone, Tom Musser was inducted into the Chester County Business Hall of Fame and received the Jordan Award from the Chester County Community Foundation, adding to a plethora of honors.

In 2013, he received the Chester County Community Foundation Corporate Social Investment Award, and he was added to the Unionville High School Wall of Honor in 2008. In 2000, he received the distinguished service award from the Central Chester County YMCA (now Brandywine Valley). In 1996, the Southern Chester County Chamber of Commerce named him outstanding citizen, and in 1995 the Chester County Chamber of Business & Industry honored him as CEO of the Year.

“Tom Musser was a true leader, not only in his business, but in the community as well. Whenever there was a need, Tom stepped up,” said Kennett Square Mayor Matt Fetick. “He created a culture within 3M of the importance of community involvement. The legacy that Tom leaves is remarkable, and our community is better for having had him as a leader. He will truly be missed."

Born in West Chester, Tom Musser was the son of the late Wilmor G. Musser and the late Ethel Thomas Musser. A 1952 graduate of Unionville High School, he attended the University of Florida. He served in the U.S. Navy as an air traffic controller on the USS Shangri La (CVA 38), operating in the Atlantic Fleet.

He was a member of Westminster Presbyterian Church in West Chester and a former member of Unionville Presbyterian Church, where he served as an elder and church representative to the Donegal Presbytery.

He was past master of the Kennett Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons and past high priest of the Kennett Chapter of the Royal Arch Masons, past commander of the Brandywine Commandry, past master of Gunning Bedford Council in Wilmington, past illustrious grand master of the Grand Council of Royal & Select Masons of Delaware, a member of the Philadelphia Priory Knights of the York Cross of Honor, past president and board member of the Southern Chester County Chamber of Commerce, a board member of the Southern Chester County Medical Center (now Jennersville Regional Hospital), past president and past member of the Kennett Square Rotary Club (now Rotary at Longwood) and a Paul Harris Fellow.

His business expertise led to his testifying several times before Congress for business and construction issues, and he met with President George W. Bush on three different occasions regarding issues facing independent businesses.

Tom Musser’s numerous business honors were eclipsed only by his civic accomplishments. A past president of the YMCA of Central Chester County (now Brandywine Valley), Tom Musser also chaired the Kennett-Unionville YMCA Capital Fund Drive in 1996 and 1997, raising $5.2 million for the YMCA in Kennett Square. He also led its 2011-12 capital campaign, which generated $3 million for the Kennett Y’s expansion.

"Tom was a great friend to the Y and to the community as a whole," said Denise Day, president and CEO of the Greater Brandywine YMCA.  "He was very generous with his time, his business knowledge, and his resources.  He will always be remembered for his warmth and caring as evidenced through his big heart for kids and his love for the community. He will be greatly missed. "

Dave Lichter, a fifth-grade teacher at Pocopson Elementary School, knew Tom Musser for 25 years, witnessing countless examples of Tom Musser's generosity and kindness. “He was an extraordinary man who saw and did so many amazing things in his lifetime, but you would never know it because he was so modest and could almost come across as being shy,” Lichter noted.

Lichter said many of his observations about Tom Musser occurred through the Unionville Community Fair.

“He was a devoted husband and father, but in a quiet way,” Lichter said of Tom Musser.  “His wife Bonnie was, and is still, very involved in the fair, and Tom was always quietly supporting her and the fair in the background.”

In addition to his wife, Tom Musser is survived by a daughter, Traci Musser Bauguess, her husband, Ronald E. Bauguess of Port Deposit, Md., and their children Kayla Renae Bauguess and Xander Thomas Bauguess; a son, Thomas H. Musser of Kennett Square; two brothers, Richard D. Musser and his wife, Doris, and Harry W. Musser and his wife, Peggy; brother-in-law, William D. Anderson, Jr. and his wife, Sherry; sister-in-law, Terry Anderson Vosburgh and her husband, Bruce; and six nieces and nephews.

Visitation with Tom Musser’s family and friends will be held at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 10 W. Pleasant Grove Rd., West Chester, from 6 to 9 p.m. on Sunday, July 17, and from 9-to 11 a.m. on Monday, July 18, which will be followed by the funeral service. Interment will be in Union Hill Cemetery, 424 N. Union St., Kennett Square.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Naval Institute Foundation, 291 Wood Road, Annapolis, Md., 21402, or Neighborhood Hospice, 795 E. Marshall St., Suite 204, West Chester, Pa. 19380.

Arrangements are being handled by the Kuzo & Grieco Funeral Home, Inc. in Kennett Square. To view Tom Musser’s online tribute and to share a memory with his family, visit www.griecocares.com.

 

 

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