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Published: Sunday, 8/10/2014 - Updated: 1 month ago

James Masur: 1930-2014; O-I negotiator became V.P. of corporate staff

BY VANESSA McCRAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
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James David Masur, whose long career with Owens-Illinois Inc. included negotiating contracts with more than a dozen international unions, died Tuesday. He was 83.

He had been battling pulmonary fibrosis and died at Parkwest Medical Center in Knoxville, Tenn., said his son JD Masur II.

Mr. Masur and his wife, Alice, with whom he celebrated 60 years of marriage last month, moved to Loudon, Tenn., from Perrysburg in 1992.

His work for the glass manufacturer took him to positions across the country and brought him to the Toledo area for two stints, starting in 1968. He specialized in human resources and personnel work and was tasked with representing the company during sometimes contentious contract negotiations with unions, his children said.

The work put her father in a “tough position,” but he also made friends with union leaders and had them over for home-cooked dinners, Cheryl Masur said.

“It was an adversarial system, but it wasn’t antagonistic,” said his son, adding that his father could be both “hard-nosed” and also willing to work with the unions to better workers’ lives.

He loved his work, which took him from New Orleans, where he worked as an industrial relations director at an O-I glass container manufacturing plant, to a similar role at a North Bergen, N.J., plant. He also held a management position at an Atlanta plant.

In 1979, he was promoted from director of industrial relations to vice president of corporate staff.

Born Oct. 28, 1930, Mr. Masur grew up in Pittsburgh’s north side and graduated in 1955 from the University of Pittsburgh, where he received a degree in physical education and played sports.

He married his wife during his senior year at the university.

“He said he went from a C-student to an A-student after [he] said ‘I do,’” his daughter said.

During his service with the Army he played on military baseball teams, and was a powerhouse hitter and first baseman.

He picked up golf in his 20s, and it became a lifelong passion. He played courses across the country and coached the St. John’s Jesuit High School golf team in Toledo.

He paired a “Mr. Tough Guy” persona with a softer, romantic side, his daughter said. Unable to go shopping himself, he recently enlisted her to help buy a jewelry gift for his wife. They chose a piece with emeralds, to mark her May birthday, and diamonds, the traditional gift to celebrate a 60th anniversary.

A big joke-teller, his quips frequently took aim at blondes — to the amusement of the women in his life, all of whom are fair-haired.

“Dad was just kind of a consummate guy’s guy,” his son said.

Everyone was drawn to him, he said, “He made the room seem bigger for everyone when they entered it.”

Surviving are his wife, Alice; son, JD Masur II; daughter Cheryl Masur; and four grandchildren.

A service was held Saturday in Tennessee.

The family suggests tributes to the building fund of First Baptist Church of Tellico Village in Loudon, Tenn.

Contact Vanessa McCray at: vmccray@theblade.com or 419-724-6065, or on Twitter @vanmccray.



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