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Published: Monday, 5/26/2008

Toledo tool company founder known for faith and generosity

Thomas Mallory Shea, 91, a retired Toledo sales engineer and philanthropist who in retirement started, owned, and operated a one-man Toledo business that sold manufacturing tools, died yesterday in the Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Detroit Avenue, from complications of kidney failure.

"He was an extraordinarily hardworking man, a self-starter," his son, Dan, said. "And he was a very strong man of [Catholic] faith and a very generous man."

Mr. Shea retired in 1983 after 43 years as a sales engineer with Toledo's former Martin Brothers Container and Timber Products plant, having driven more than 1.5 million miles on the job.

He could not stand retirement and later that year started S&B Tool Co. to keep busy, his son said.

Mr. Shea single-handedly operated the company, selling manufacturing tools in northwest Ohio, until 1991, when he closed the operation and finally retired for good, his son said.

After graduating from Clay High School, Mr. Shea, a Toledo native, put himself through the former DeSales College in North Toledo, from which he graduated about 1938 with a bachelor's degree in engineering.

Later that year, he was hired by Martin Brothers and worked for them until 1944, when he enlisted in the Navy to fight in World War II.

Mr. Shea was a packaging engineer for the Navy in the Pacific Theater until 1946, when he was honorably discharged.

He returned to Toledo, where he was rehired later that year by Martin Brothers.

In retirement, Mr. Shea, a lifelong Catholic and a lifelong Republican, continued to donate money to Catholic and medical charities and to Republican causes.

He wrote a check once a month to one of about 50 such organizations to which he had contributed over the years, his son said.

"He was an exceptionally honorable, gallant, and generous man," his daughter Linda VanderPol, said.

Added his other daughter, Kathy Pettinato: "He was a big man, but he was also gentle and considerate and polite."

Mr. Shea's wife of 59 years, Marcella, died in 1999.

His longtime hobbies included golfing, bowling, and playing bridge.

Mr. Shea was a longtime member, lector, and Eucharistic minister at Little Flower Catholic Church and a member of Shepherds in Christ.

His other memberships included Toledo's Inverness Club, of which he was a member of nearly 50 years.

Surviving are his son, Dan Shea; daughters, Linda VanderPol and Kathy Pettinato; sister, Lucille Sullivan; 10 grandchildren, and 25 great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be after 2 p.m. tomorrow at Coyle Funeral Home, Reynolds Road, where the Rosary will be recited at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow. Services will be at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at Little Flower Catholic Church.

The family suggests tributes to Little Flower Catholic Church, Hospice of Northwest Ohio, or the American Cancer Society.



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