DID YOU EVER take a good look at a building?
If you were lucky enough to attend Masterman High School when Tom Gavin was volunteering there, you did.
Tom would take members of the school's gifted program on walks around the city, pointing out buildings and encouraging students to really look at them.
How does a building meet the ground? The sky? Turn a corner? Welcome you in?
It wasn't very likely that the students would want to follow in Tom's footsteps and become architects, but the walks opened their eyes to the world around them and let them contemplate the realities of the city environment.
Thomas James Gavin Jr., project architect and designer and later director of human resources for the Francis Cauffman architectural firm; Army veteran, teacher and mentor, artist, and amateur cello player, died Saturday of brain cancer. He was 68 and lived in Powelton Village.
Tom was a man of many talents. He carried a sketchbook with him and drew whatever interested him, especially the landscape of the human face.
He also experimented with abstracts and showed his work several months ago at Art on the Avenue, in Powelton. He also taught drawing in the interior-design department at Drexel University.
He took up the cello in his mid-40s and, although it was unlikely that the Philadelphia Orchestra would come knocking at his door, he had fun playing Bach and Brahms.
Tom had studied French at the Sorbonne in Paris, and was able to read the difficult works of Marcel Proust in the original.
He was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., to Thomas James Gavin and the former Margaret Bretsch. He graduated from Xaverian High School, in Brooklyn, in its first graduating class in 1961.
In 1965 he received a bachelor's degree with honors from Fordham, where he was a member of the honorary society Phi Beta Kappa. He majored in French and studied in Paris during his junior year. Tom entered the Army in 1965 and served as a cryptographer in the Signal Corps in Germany. He was discharged in 1967.
He attended Pratt Institute, in Brooklyn, in 1968, then entered the University of Pennsylvania School of Design, from which he received a master's degree in architecture in 1972. He went to work for Francis, Cauffman, Wilkinson & Pepper - later Francis Cauffman Foley Hoffmann, now Francis Cauffman.
He taught architecture to public-school students, first with Architecture in the Schools, a program of the Foundation for Architecture, then each year at his children's schools, Powel Elementary and Masterman High. He was head of the Home and School Association at Masterman.
Tom met his future wife, Cara Crosby, at a party in Powelton. She was intrigued by his Brooklyn accent and asked him how long he had been in this country. They were married in 1976.
He also is survived by a son, Patrick; daughter, Anna Crosby Gavin; two brothers, the Rev. Kenneth Gavin and Peter Gavin, and two sisters, Elaine Brock and Susan Morrison.