Thomas Dillon, the president of Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California, died yesterday in a car accident in Ireland.
“On Wednesday, April 15, 2009, Dr. Thomas E. Dillon, the president of Thomas Aquinas College, was killed in an automobile accident in Ireland, where he was traveling with his wife, Terri, on behalf of the college,” the college announced yesterday.
“Mrs. Dillon was only slightly injured and is hospitalized for the time being. Family members and a representative of the College are en route to Ireland to bring Mrs. Dillon back to California and to accompany Dr. Dillon’s body.”
Mr. Dillon, president of the Catholic college for 18 years, was attending a conference for the International Council of Universities of St. Thomas Aquinas in Limerick.
He oversaw extensive growth at the college, including a chapel that was dedicated March 7. Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel, modeled on a 13th-century Florentine cathedral, was designed to be the physical and spiritual center of the campus.
A Rosary and Mass were offered on Wednesday at 3 p.m. in the chapel for the repose of Dr. Dillon’s soul.
Before he was named president, Dillon served as the college's associate dean of student affairs and then became the dean.
In addition to his wife, Dillon is survived by four children and their spouses, Thomas and his wife, Elizabeth, of Massachusetts; Christine Ellis and her husband, Thomas, of Fillmore; Maria Forte and her husband, Domiane, of Santa Paula; Daniel of Santa Paula; and 15 grandchildren.
Information concerning funeral arrangements will be provided by the College.