By Lou Baldwin
Special to The CS&T
Douglas O. Tozour shoots high. The founder, CEO and president of Tozour -Trane Energy Systems, his company holds the Philadelphia region franchise for Trane HVAC (Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning). As such, his firm was responsible for HVAC in the Comcast World Headquarters, Philadelphia’s tallest building, as well as skyline giants One Liberty Place and Two Liberty Place.
Since January, he’s been promoting liberty in a different context – he is president of the National Liberty Museum.
Located at 321 Chestnut St., near Independence Hall, one would assume the National Liberty Museum exists to showcase the history of our nation and its founding. That’s only a very small part of the story.
“It’s not just a museum, it’s a teaching institute,” Tozour said. “It doesn’t teach history, it uses history to teach values. We are talking in terms of teaching character development and how you live your life.”
Tozour, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy with an engineering degree, served in the Marine Corps for five years before joining a Trane franchise in Washington, D.C. He was subsequently sales manager for the Philadelphia franchise and owner of the Hartford franchise, which he sold in 1983 to purchase the larger Philadelphia franchise.
Under his leadership it has become one of the major HVAC providers in the region with three business units – Tozour Trane, Tozour-Trane HVAC Parts and Supplies and Tozour Energy Service. Other major area projects of his company include 1000 Continental in King of Prussia, Marina Thermal Chilled Water Plant in Atlantic City and Princeton University’s energy plant.
He and his wife Gail are the parents of two grown children, Karla and Paul, who attended Notre Dame Academy and Malvern Preparatory School respectively. He is also a former board chairman for Malvern Prep. Although a nondenominational Christian himself, he usually attends Catholic Masses with his family often at St. Monica Church in Berwyn.
Tozour’s first contact with the National Liberty Museum came through an art exhibit held at the museum which he and his wife attended.
There he met Board Chairman Irving Borowski, the Philadelphia publisher, who founded the museum in 2000 as an avenue to promote religious and ethnic tolerance and respect. Its intent is to combat all types of prejudice by highlighting inspaniduals who exemplify America’s founding dream.
Honorees have included police officers, teachers and students, as well as internationally known figures, including Cardinal Edward Cassidy, the president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
Six years ago Tozour joined the museum board, and this year at Borowski’s request, he became president.
As president, Tozour helps guide the museum with its many imaginative exhibits and programs promoting tolerance in the context of freedom. Recent additions include a “Peace Train” which visits schools and an Internet-based “Caretoon” contest which attracts well over 1,000 entries from around the globe promoting an anti-violence theme.
The museum also houses a large collection of glass art, including the impressive two-and-a-half story “Flame of Liberty,” which obliquely fits the institution’s mission.
“Glass is strong but fragile,” Tozour said. “When it is broken it is hard to put back together.”
Lou Baldwin is a member of St. Leo Parish and a freelance writer.