Retired Westinghouse engineer Thomas R. Mager was a leading figure in the nuclear industry, so much so that his daughter remembers how active the family phone was the night of the Three Mile Island accident in 1979.
"People were calling all through the night, because they wanted to consult with him,” said Amelia Brown. “He was one of the top nuclear scientists in the world.”
Mr. Mager, a Murrysville resident who died Monday at age 86 in Forbes Hospice, was also a devoted father and grandfather, who was known for his generosity, his daughters said.
“Any family member who needed help, whether it was a sister or a grandchild, he was the first to say, ‘What do you need?’ ” said Maria Mager. She added that he was generous to those outside his immediate family as well, including making regular donations to the local food bank and his church.
His son James said when Mr. Mager decided he and his wife didn’t need two cars, he donated his Lincoln Continental to his church. “But it wasn’t enough for him to give them the car. He told them, ‘When this car needs to be inspected, call me and I’ll pay for it,’ ” the younger Mr. Mager said. “He told me, ‘There are a lot of people out there who are hurting, and we need to help them.’ ”
Mr. Mager graduated from Oliver High School in 1947, where he was active in sports. He tried to join the Navy at a young age, said Ms. Brown of Providence, R.I., but his mother called the Navy to tell them he was too young. Once he graduated high school, he joined the Army and was stationed in Oklahoma. He returned to the area and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in metallurgical engineering. He was a lifelong supporter of Pitt and its football program, his son said.
He started his career with Westinghouse as a technician in 1953, eventually rising to management for Westinghouse Nuclear Europe in Brussels. He started his own consulting practice when he retired from Westinghouse in 1994, and has numerous publications and recognitions for his work in developing consensus standards in the field of nuclear technology.
Ms. Mager said her father also loved to travel. His work took him all around the world, but his favorite place to go after retirement was the condominium he and his wife bought in Aventura, Fla., near Miami. James Mager said it was all the more remarkable how many friends his father made in his travels, because an accident in his 20s left him with significant hearing loss.
“As a kid, whenever you did something wrong, you always had to tell him twice,” said James Mager of Nottingham. “But he somehow made friends all over the world, one of the great mysteries of my father.”
And the elder Mr. Mager was also a connoisseur of wine, added Ms. Mager of Pine. “We always trusted his judgment. If he said a Chianti had to be a reserve, he knew what he was talking about,” she said.
In addition to his daughters and son James, Mr. Mager is survived by his wife of 63 years, Josephine Mager; sons Thomas Mager of Marblehead, Mass., and Daniel Mager of Murrysville; and his sister, Patricia Boyer. He had nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Friends will be received from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Hart Funeral Home, 3103 Lillian Ave., Murrysville. An additional visitation will be from 9 to 10 a.m. Thursday at Mother of Sorrows Church in Murrysville. It will be followed by a burial Mass at 10 a.m. Interment will be at Twin Valley Memorial Park in Delmont.
The family suggests memorial contributions be made in his memory to Forbes Hospice, 4800 Friendship Ave., Tower 8th Floor, Pittsburgh 15224 or Mother Teresa Outreach, Mother of Sorrows Church, Murrysville.
Kim Lyons: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1241. Twitter: @SocialKimly.