background image
he most compelling visuals of the
Friedsam Memorial Library can ar-
guably be found in the main read-
ing room. One hundred feet in length, the
area boasts Roman arched windows, a ceil-
ing coffered with American black walnut,
large bookshelves lining the walls, a mas-
sive fireplace -- and 14 beautiful hand-
crafted study tables.
Students are often gathered around these
magnificent tables, doing schoolwork and
Philip Marquand Masi handcrafted 18 ta-
bles in 1947 as part of his work for the We-
ston Lumber Company in Olean. Fourteen
of the tables reside in the main reading
room of the library, while four enhance the
Curriculum Center on the lower level. Masi
had relocated from Arlington, Va., to Olean
with his wife, Rose Abbott Masi, who was
born there.
Although he had no direct ties to St.
Bonaventure, he was a large part of the
community surrounding the University. As
well as creating the tables for Friedsam, his
handiwork could be found in the bar of the
former Castle Restaurant and the stairway
at Armond's clothing store, among other
projects. He passed away in December
2012 at the age of 95.
Masi had a special connection to reading
and learning, as well as the arts. He was a
communications specialist in World War II
and he served as a volunteer at the Olean
Public Library.
"He was a renaissance man who was a
lifelong learner," said Francine Masi Gabler,
one of Masi's four daughters. "He was curi-
ous about everything, and even in his ad-
vanced age he continued reading
newspapers and magazines."
So when it became clear that the tables in
the reading room, the product of a man
with such a strong affinity for learning and
such artistic talent, began to weather, Sr.
Margaret Carney, O.S.F., president of the
University, decided to get the craftsman's
family involved and approached his eldest
grandson, Matthew Utecht.
"She suggested that there be a fundraiser
to refinish them, and instead we decided to
keep this family legacy alive with family do-
nations to fund whatever work needed to
be done," said Gabler.
The gift was part of a decision by all four
daughters: Susan Masi Widmer, '70 (MS);
Karen Masi Utecht; Kathleen Masi Kosciol,
'68 (BA); and Francine Masi Gabler, who
taught accounting in the School of Business
from 1981-1983. Their combined gift
funded the refinishing work completed this
past summer by Harden Furniture of Mc-
Connellsville, N.Y.
The tables now stand as a testament to
Philip Marquand Masi's character as both a
master craftsman and a dedicated learner.
On each of the tables are two ornate lamps
that provide lighting for students. The sur-
faces are finished with a gleaming varnish
that supports a good work environment.
Both of Masi's passions are present here on
the refinished tables.
Masi's family is happy that their father's
craftsmanship can still be a part of the
Friedsam Library, and they are also proud of
what the tables mean to the Bonaventure
community. An untold number of students
have used the tables through the years, and
it is gratifying to the family to know the ta-
bles will continue to be used and appreci-
ated in the future.
Dan Leopold is a sophomore journalism
and history major at St. Bonaventure.
WINTER 2014-15
Partnering with you today. Making a difference for tomorrow.
Nearly 70 years after Philip Marquand Masi handcrafted 14 tables for the main reading room
of Friedsam Memorial Library, his daughters have ensured that his craftsmanship
will continue to enhance the student study experience.
A Study in Philanthropy: The Masi Family Legacy
By Dan Leopold, '17
INSET: Philip
Marquand Masi
is pictured with
his daughters,
Karen, Susan
and Francine.