Tom Mazza not only drove a limousine, he became a limousine mogul, a nationally known authority on the limousine business and the training of drivers. He even wrote a book about it.
Thomas G. Mazza, who also was a well-regarded basketball coach at local schools, a play-by-play announcer and co-host with a former Eagles player of a sports talk show, died Aug. 11 of complications of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. He was 53 and lived in Center City.
Through his limousine service, L'Tour Limousine, Tom dealt with the great and the near-great, all of whom, regardless of station in life, got the same white-glove treatment from this dedicated entrepreneur.
There was, for instance, the time when former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev came to Philadelphia to receive the Liberty Medal at the Constitution Center from former President George H.W. Bush in 2008. Naturally, he rode in a Mazza limousine.
Tom wasn't the driver, but he was there to make sure everything went smoothly. His family has a cherished photo of him helping Gorbachev out of his car.
The limousine service was started in 1989 by Tom and his brother, Mark. Tom became aware that the limousine business needed help, and he produced an educational video on the training of chauffeurs. The videos are still in use and highly regarded in the industry.
Tom was the author of the book Stretching It, the Story of the Limousine. He also wrote for the industry's publications, Limousine and Chauffeured Transportation and Limousine Digest.
He worked on Limousine Digest's annual trade show, choosing speakers and setting up educational programs. He lined up such guests as Donald Trump, Bill Parcells and George Foreman.
Tom was born in Philadelphia to Paul Mazza and the former Gilda Planamente. He graduated in 1976 from Archbishop Ryan High School, where he talked the faculty into letting him do a daily sports review about Ryan's teams, and, for a short time, did play-by-play for the basketball team.
He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1980 with a degree in journalism. Basketball was his passion. He started coaching basketball at St. Elizabeth's Parochial School in Strawberry Mansion in 1987 and took the team to a city championship.
He later coached at area high schools and a junior college. He became a play-by-play announcer for Drexel University's basketball teams.
In 1996 he became the co-host of a sports talk show with former Eagle lineman Brian Baldinger on Trenton's WTTM-AM.
"I played 12 years in the NFL, and Tom Mazza asks questions that are as good or better than anyone I have seen," Baldinger said. "He's a natural talent and a big asset to the show."
"Tom had an endearing quality, which was his ability to relate to anyone, no matter the place, the economic status, the person's race," said his brother, Mark.
"Tom had the ability to draw people to him. He had an incredible memory for names, faces, their spouses' and childrens' names and even if they had a particular problem within their family."
"Tommy lived his life on the go," Mark said.
Besides his brother, he is survived by two sisters, Marian and Yvonne "Bonnie." He was predeceased by a brother, Paul Mazza Jr.
Services: Memorial service 10 a.m. Thursday at St. Albert's Church, 2123 Welsh Road, Huntingdon Valley. A Funeral Mass will begin at noon.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Philabundance, 3616 S. Galloway St., Philadelphia 19148, and the Greater Philadelphia ALS Chapter, 321 Norristown Road, Suite 260, Ambler PA 19002.
Contact John F. Morrison at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-854-5573.