SANTA PAULA, CA - In a letter today to key officials and benefactors of Thomas Aquinas College, Chairman of the Board of Governors, Mrs. Maria O. Grant, announced the shocking news that on Wednesday, April 15, 2009, Dr. Thomas E. Dillon, president of the college for the past 18 years, had died in a car accident in Ireland, where he was traveling on behalf of the school. Mrs. Dillon, who was traveling with him, was only slightly injured and was hospitalized briefly. "Family members and a representative of the College," said Mrs. Grant, "are en route to Ireland to bring Mrs. Dillon back to California and to accompany Dr. Dillon's body."
Though Wednesday was the last day of Easter vacation, some faculty and students were already on campus. The tragic news was announced to them in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel at 1:00 p.m., and at 3:00 p.m., a rosary was said and Mass offered for the repose of Dr. Dillon's soul.
Information regarding funeral arrangements is forthcoming. "In the meantime," said Mrs. Grant, "I ask that everyone please pray for the happy repose of Dr. Dillon's soul, and for the consolation of his family."
Dr. Thomas E. Dillon served as president of Thomas Aquinas College from 1991 until his death in 2009. He was a member of the teaching faculty since 1972, and a member of the Board of Governors since 1981. Prior to being appointed as president, he served as Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and Academic Dean. Dr. Dillon held a bachelor of arts in Integral Liberal Arts from St. Mary's College of California, and masters and doctoral degrees in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame.
President Dillon was a member of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and served on the Board of Directors of a number of organizations, including the Institute on Religious Life. A member of Legatus for the past 12 years, he had spoken to various Legatus chapters around the country and at the Legatus International Summit in Naples, Florida, in 2005 and Napa, California, in 2006.
He leaves behind his beloved wife, Terri, their four children, and 15 grandchildren.