Thomas E. Belshaw
Tom passed away peacefully on July 31, 2008 with his family by his side. He was 88 years old. He lived a long and productive life and was best known for his mechanical genius and his financial acumen. He used those abilities to operate a successful business and to mentor and inspire others. He was a brilliant and caring man who loved his work and appreciated the people he worked with.
Tom was born in Everett, Washington on March 24, 1920 to Thomas and Bessie Belshaw, and moved to Seattle at the age of four, settling in Rainier Valley. He attended Colman Grade School and graduated from Franklin High School in 1938. He married Yvonne DeWitt in 1941 and moved to West Seattle where they have lived for the past 67 years.
He worked at Boeing as a machinist and also served in the Coast Guard Auxiliary during the war. He attended the University of Washington majoring in engineering and accounting, and then passed the CPA examination.
In the 1950's Tom took over the management of Belshaw Brothers Inc., the family business founded by his father and uncle. For the next 40 years he applied his engineering and business knowledge to inventing and manufacturing bakery and restaurant equipment, receiving many patents for the designs of their products. During that time the company grew dramatically offering new automated equipment and expanding sales into international markets.
He pioneered equipment sales in Europe, Australia, and Asia; and in 1967 received the Presidential ÒEÓ Award for Excellence in Export, for progressive and successful sales polices. In 1959 the company was the subject of the KING-TV program, "Success Story" which featured inside views of northwest companies.
Tom was devoted to the baking industry where he contributed his leadership and organization skills. He was elected President of The Bakery Equipment Manufactures Association (BEMA) in 1970, and continued to serve on the Board for many years; twice serving as chairman of the International Baking Industry Exposition. He retired from the company in 1992 and in 1995 started a new business called Food Equipment Design which provided him the opportunity to continue to design and manufacture new products.
In 2006 Tom received from BEMA the Lifetime Achievement Award. Then in 2007 he was honored by being inducted into the American Society Baking Hall of Fame.
During his career Tom worked side by side with his wife Yvonne who headed the advertising department of the company. They traveled together on countless business trips throughout the world, making many long lasting friends and hosting many foreign visitors when they came to Seattle.
Tom was a life long Mason and a member of the Seattle Rotary. He liked to read, play golf and spend time with friends and his grand children. But most of all he liked to run a business.
Tom is survived by his wife Yvonne, a son William (Mary) of Everett and a daughter Mary Leah of Vashon Island; three grandchildren: Allen Belshaw, Kristin Belshaw-Hood and Emily Belshaw; and five great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at Fauntleroy Church, 9140 California Ave. S.W., Seatttle on Saturday, August 23rd at 1 PM.
Remembrances can be made to the Alzheimer's Association 12721 30th Ave. N.E., Seattle WA 98125.
Published August 13, 2008 in the West Seattle Herald.