Thomas James Cence, 99, passed away on Friday, October 3, 2014 at Brethren Village. He was born in Harrisburg, PA on March 24, 1915 to Thomas James and Iva Sue (Birely) Cence. He was the devoted husband of the late Jean Keener Cence whom he married in 1950 and with whom he shared 54 years of marriage. He is survived by his daughters, Barbara (Mrs. Daniel) Witmer of Lancaster and Mary (Mrs. Richard) Trost of Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan, and his grand daughters Elizabeth and Katherine Trost.
Tom graduated from the Thaddeus Stevens Trade School in 1935 with trades in architectural drawing and carpentry. After graduation he was employed in Lancaster in the local housing industry. During World War II he served on special assignment to the US Air Force in North Africa. Upon his return in 1944 he joined Armstrong Cork Company in Lancaster where he moved through various positions from engineering drafting into field sales. In 1955 he joined Keener Tag Manufacturing in Lancaster and remained its President and owner until 1985. He was also the President and owner of Metzger Publicity in Lancaster and Tagcraft Corporation in Brooklyn, NY.
An active member of the Lancaster business and civic community, he remained an especially stalwart supporter of the Thaddeus Stevens Trade School, now the Stevens College of Technology, for all of his life. Beginning in 1955 and until his death, he was a member of the Thaddeus Stevens Alumni Association and the Thaddeus Stevens Foundation where he served terms as Secretary and President and was instrumental in establishing the Alumni Housing Program. Appointed to the Stevens Board of Trustees in 1963 by then Governor Scranton, he became its President in 1973 and served two terms in that position. Upon the schools accreditation as the Stevens College of Technology, he was the recipient of the first honorary degree and was bestowed a Doctor of Public Service in 1998. So that others may benefit from the education and guidance of the institution, he endowed the Thomas Cence Scholarship that has been awarded annually since 2009.
In addition to his lifework at Stevens, he served on the Boards of Directors of the Teachers Protective Life Insurance Company, Davis Oil Company, Meridian Bank, and Lancaster Federal Savings and Loan. He was a member and past President of the Lancaster Area Manufacturers Association (LAMA). During his service LAMA merged with the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and Industry to become the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce. Elsewhere within the community, he was a Chair of the East Hempfield Community Chest, director of the James Buchanan Foundation, and past President of the Lancaster Rotary Club where he had perfect attendance for over 50 years of membership. He was a faithful member of St. James Episcopal Church where he served fives years as a vestryman and Registrar and where along with his wife Jean he established the Cence Youth Fund to support programming for the parish and community.
An avid, talented, and fiercely competitive golfer, he was a member of the Lancaster Country Club, Pine Valley Golf Club, and The Landings Country Club of Skidaway Island, Savannah, GA. Winner of the LCC Club Championship in1950, he won numerous tournaments throughout Lancaster and the broader golf community. Throughout his playing years, he shot scores at or below his age on many occasions. He also enjoyed many years of membership in the Tucquan Club and Lancaster Pirates.
Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to attend a Memorial Service at St. James Episcopal Church, 119 N Duke St, Lancaster, PA 17602 (on the corner of Orange and Duke Streets) on Thursday, October 9, 2014 at 10:00 AM with the Rev. David W. Peck officiating. A private interment will be held at the convenience of the family. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Thomas J. Cence Scholarship Fund, Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology, 740 East End Avenue, Lancaster, PA 17602.