Thomas "Tommy" James Farquhar was born on 7 February 1894, in Farmington, Minnesota, the only son of William Stover Farquhar and Lillian Withrow Farquhar. "Will," a Civil War veteran, had originally come to Minnesota in the 1850s with his parents who had settled, for a while, just south of St. Paul. Lillie's parents had come to Minnesota from Nova Scotia at around the same time and had homesteaded in Washington County near Stillwater.
Thomas's parents moved to St. Paul in c. 1900. His father
died in 1906, when Thomas was twelve years old. His mother died
three years later. His sister Ethel, who was fourteen years older,
became his guardian and, although surrounded by aunts and uncles,
he was really on his own.
In 1912, he graduated from St. Paul, Minnesota High School and
received an A.B. degree from Oberlin College in 1918, after having
dropped out of the University of Minnesota, St. Paul, after his
freshman year for financial reasons. He was a student blessed with
athletic ability. He joined the United States Air Service in 1918
and eventually was commissioned as a second lieutenant. After his
military service, 1918-19, Mr. Farquhar entered the securities business,
working in several firms and locales. During this period, 1919-29,
he was Vice President of the Cleveland Discount Company, Cleveland,
Ohio, and then Secretary-Treasurer of the California Mortgage Company
in New York City. Returning to Cleveland, he worked as a salesman,
later becoming manager of the Seven Hills Company of Cleveland.
He returned to New York City where he was Secretary-Treasurer of
Stevens and Company.
When he again returned to Ohio in 1929, he turned his attention from securities to invention and manufacturing. He was one of the principal inventors of gasfluxing, a process of brazing, the joining of two metals using a dissimilar metal as the connecting agent. This process requires using a flux to dissolve oxides formed on the materials by the high temperatures required by brazing. Mr. Farquhar's process improved on previous methods by using a liquid flux and a special applicator to "put the flux in the flame."
In 1939 he was one of the founders of the Gasflux Company in Mansfield,
Ohio. He served first as its sales manager and then as its president
until his death in 1967. In 1956, the gasfluxing company moved to
Elyria, Ohio. Although a local manufacturing company, Gasflux had
a national distribution. Included among them were such giants as
General Electric and Westinghouse, as well as silversmiths and manufacturers
of products such as steel office desks, refrigerator cabinets, hot
water heaters, and bicycles.
Mr. Farquhar also acquired ownership of Airlenco, Inc., a company
which produces filters that remove oil and water from compressed
During his many years of residence in Oberlin, Ohio (1940-67),
Mr. Farquhar was active in the Oberlin Golf Club, serving as vice
president and then president.
In 1919, Thomas Farquhar married Katherine "Katzie" Horn
Kilmer (b. 1896; AB 1919). Mrs. Farquhar was a member of the Class
Presidents' Council, serving a term as its vice president,
and was class secretary during her sophomore year, 1917. In 1958,
she was a member of the Oberlin-Elyria group for the Delphine Hanna
Foundation. The couple had two children: William Kilmer (b. 1921;
AB 1943) and Mary Katherine Farquhar Dipman (b. 1923; AB 1945).
Mrs. Farquhar's brother, Robert J. Kilmer (AB 1932), and her
sisters, Florence G. (AB 1920) and Ruth (AB 1923), also attended
Thomas James Farquhar died on 21 November 1967 in Clearwater Beach, Florida, at his winter home. Katherine Farquhar died in Oberlin, Ohio on 12 December 1974. Both are buried in Westwood Cemetery in Oberlin.
A photograph and biographical information about Thomas
James Farquhar are
included in the digital collection “Oberlin
College and Military Service in World War I,” presented
by the Oberlin College Archives.