Remembering Dr. Thomas Dillon
When Dr. Thomas Dillon died suddenly last spring, it left many who knew him speechless . . .
I don’t exactly remember when I met Dr. Thomas Dillon for the first time, but I’ll never forget the last time I saw him. The affable president of Thomas Aquinas College was a fixture at Legatus summits — both as a speaker and as an attendee, and he was a faithful member of Legatus’ Ventura/LA North Chapter.
I remember talking to him at our 2007 summit in Colorado Springs. He was excited about the college’s new Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel, which was then under construction. As the project neared completion, I saw him again at the Legatus summit in February. Pope Benedict XVI had recently blessed the chapel’s cornerstone, and Dr. Dillon personally invited me to its dedication. As promised, I received a formal invitation within a week and eagerly accepted.
Cardinal Roger Mahony dedicated the chapel during a beautiful Mass on March 7. After a reception the following day, I was sitting on a bench admiring the campus when Dr. Dillon passed by on the way to his office. He graciously took me on a tour of the new administration building, explaining the architecture and the college’s unique history. He took half an hour of his time to show me his office and the president’s home — a 1929 Spanish-style hacienda built by the property’s original owners.
My final encounter with Dr. Dillon that day was memorable because he took the time on this special day to make me feel like family. Those who knew him best tell me that he was like that with everyone — faculty, students, benefactors, bishops and grocery store clerks.
So it was a shock to learn five weeks later that Dr. Dillon had died in a single-vehicle accident while in Ireland for a conference. His wife, Terri, was slightly injured in the crash. The news brought back a flood of memories, and it made me grateful to serve Catholic business leaders like him who are changing the world for Christ.
Over the years I have met many Legates like Tom Dillon who live their faith in a way that leaves others in awe. These are leaders in the truest sense of the word because they’re not only leading business organizations, they’re leading souls. Each person was created by God. Each person was created for God. Tom Dillon lived that reality, and the world is a better place for it.
Patrick Novecosky is the editor of Legatus Magazine.