DALLAS — Thomas Washington Masterson III, whose career in the bond industry contributed to southeast Texas’ post-war economic boom, died at his home in Houston July 12. He was 87.
A memorial service is planned for 11 a.m. Aug. 4 at Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church in Houston.
Masterson, founder of Masterson & Co. in Houston, which was later acquired by First Southwest Co., mentored some of Texas’ most prominent bankers and was the father of bond industry veteran Drew Masterson, owner and managing director of Masterson Advisors.
Thomas Masterson served as chairman of the Municipal Advisory Council in Texas and was a board member of the Securities Industry Association, and an inaugural board member and vice chair of the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board.
Over his 40-year career he participated in major infrastructure projects in southeast Texas, including the Coastal Water Authority that brought water from East Texas to reservoirs for Houston. The San Jacinto River Authority created the reservoirs, Lake Conroe and Lake Houston.
“His favorite project was the Harris County Toll Road Authority with then County Judge Jon Lindsay,” his son Drew recalled. “Together they convinced voters to approve $200 million of general obligation bonds that would serve as the equity for billions of revenue bonds issued over the years. Not a penny of tax money was ever needed to support the HCTRA system. He also represented the city of Houston for most of his career.”
Born on Feb. 27, 1931, in San Antonio, Masterson graduated from Alamo Heights High School and Southern Methodist University in 1951 with a degree in business administration.
As a boy, Masterson had a radio show in San Antonio where he was known as “Tommy the Kid Reporter,” recording shows with stars such as Gene Autry and Roy Rogers.
After graduating from SMU, Masterson married Ann Black a week later and enlisted in the Navy where he was posted as an officer on Kwajalein, Marshall Islands. There, as a young lieutenant, he witnessed the testing of atomic and hydrogen bombs.
“The island had been obliterated in World War II with only a few palm trees left standing. But when he got there in the Korean Conflict it had returned to a tropical paradise,” Drew said. “He managed to get my mom shipped over and they spent six months in heaven. She taught school and he was the supply officer. So they were very popular.”
After the Navy, the couple moved to Houston, where Masterson joined Underwood Neuhaus as a stockbroker. Over the next 29 years, he built the municipal bond department into one of the leading firms in the industry. In 1985, he founded Masterson and Company which later became Masterson Moreland Sauer Whisman, Inc. until his retirement in 1996.
In addition to his partners Henry Sauer and George Whisman, Masterson brought Michael Bartolotta on board in 1987. Bartolotta, formerly with First Southwest, is now managing director at Citi.
"Tom was a family man and gentleman," Bartolotta said. "He was a successful banker, entrepreneur and contributed to his community both locally and nationally. He was a founding board member of the MSRB. He had a profound impact on my life. He will be greatly missed."
“As for my career, I owe everything to my dad,” said Drew Masterson. “I am the third of five kids and, for some reason, the only one whose birth announcement was a municipal bond tombstone advertisement — delivery date, issuers — so, I guess I was predestined to be in the bond business.”
In addition to Drew Masterson, survivors include Masterson’s wife of 66 years Ann Black Masterson; sons, Marc Masterson of Pittsburgh, Thomas Wayne Masterson of San Antonio, and William Graves of Houston; daughter Shari Harris of College Station; sister Libby Lybecker of Rochester, Mich.; 10 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations go to Hope Church, 18850 Redland Rd., San Antonio, TX 78259 or a charity of the donor's choice.