GRAND BANK, NL – A native of Grand Bank who scaled lofty heights in the international business world passed away recently at his home in Longboat Key, Florida.
Thomas V. Buffett is being described and praised by people who knew and worked with him over the years as “a man of great intellect, a visionary and a very successful entrepreneur,” but also as a humble man with a generous spirit who impacted the lives of many and lived by the credo he often repeated: “I want to sleep well at night and be able to look myself in the mirror.”
After finishing high school in Grand Bank, he went on to do an undergraduate degree at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick before attending Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where at age 21 he graduated with an engineering degree.
Several years later he received a master’s degree in business administration from CEI, a Geneva business school.
In addition to his many academic achievements, Tom Buffett was also an all-round athlete, excelling at nearly every sport he participated in.
From his teenage years playing soccer with his hometown GeeBees and then the Guards of St. John’s, he went on to be named as a four-letter athlete at MIT, earning accolades in soccer, hockey and lacrosse as well as being captain of the MIT sailing team.
His first job after graduating from MIT was working for the US Strategic Air Command in Greenland; then it was on to Liberia where he rose to become chief engineer of the LAMCO project at the age of 24.
He then moved to Spain for eight years where he began his entrepreneurial career by owning a plastics company, along with growing a number of other small businesses.
It was when Tom Buffett decided to uproot and move to London, England that he achieved his greatest successes.
In 1974 he became an investor and major shareholder in a small company named ASH (Automated Security Holdings), a UK-based firm. Under his leadership as its chairman and chief executive officer, ASH grew to become the leading electronic security company in Europe and one of the top three worldwide.
ASH, including its subsidiaries and franchisees, also became one of the top three electronic security companies in the U.S.A.
Phil Hollett, originally from Burin, first met Tom Buffett in the early 1980s when he was offered an opportunity to work with ASH in the UK. He worked with Tom for 35 years.
"The standards he set for others were the ones he would live by himself,” said Hollett. “I never heard Tom speak badly of another individual even when it would have been easy to do so.
“He was one of the most intelligent people I have ever met and yet was always genuinely interested in your opinion and would incorporate the good thoughts to make a better idea.”
Tom Buffett was lauded in 1990 for his contributions to the economic development of London when he was awarded the distinguished “Freedom of the City of London” commendation.
He sponsored the Olympia Horse Show in that city, where he often was invited to the Royal box. He was also a sponsor of the Royal Windsor Horse Show held at Windsor Castle, of which he is still an honorable member.
In 1984 he sponsored the British cross-country skiing team at the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.
During his younger years while living in Spain, he became a close friend of Prince Leka of Albania, later to become King Leka.
The friendship with the towering six-foot, 11-inch monarch lasted for decades, up until his death a few years ago.
In 2010, Tom Buffett and his family visited King Leka and his family in Albania, where they stayed as guests of the King at the Royal Palace of Tirana.
After his retirement, Tom and his wife Karin moved to Sarasota to raise a family. He continued to pursue his entrepreneurial interests in Florida when he became a co-founder and director of Gemesis Corporation, a company with leading-edge technology to produce man-made diamonds.
Despite being truly a man of the world, Tom Buffett never lost touch with his roots and his Newfoundland family and friends.
For the past 25 years he and his wife have owned a cabin at Stearn Pond near Grand Beach, where they and their two children frequently visited.
Tom Buffett, age 81, died peacefully at home on Longboat Key, Florida, on Dec. 13, 2017. He is survived by his wife, Karin and his two beloved children, Marcus and Natalie; as well as his four siblings and many other family members and friends.
A celebration of his life will take place on Longboat Key on Feb. 5, 2018.
Allan Stoodley is a long-time resident of Grand Bank. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and he welcomes comments on this or any other article he has written.