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RG 30/283 - Thomas and Katherine Farquhar

Thomas and Katherine FarquharThomas "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 air lines.

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 Oberlin College.

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.

Sources Consulted

Farquhar, Katherine Kilmer, Oberlin College Biographical Form, n.d.

Farquhar, Katherine Kilmer, Oberlin College Typescript Obituary, n.d.

Farquhar, Thomas James, Oberlin College Biographical Form, n.d.

"Gasflux Co. Founder Dies in Florida," The Chronicle-Telegram (Elyria), n.d., n.p.

"Small Company Will Start in Elyria Monday," The Chronicle-Telegram (Elyria), March 21, 1956, p.10.

"Thomas Farquhar Dies in Florida," Morning Journal (Lorain), n.d., n.p.

"Thomas J. Farquhar, 73, Dies in Clearwater, Fla," Oberlin News-Tribune, November 30, 1967, n.p.

"Tom Farquhar Is Golf Club President," unidentified newspaper clipping.

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