IRVING, Texas -- George Curtis Mathes Jr., who personally marketed his television sets in commercials as the most expensive but 'darn well worth it,' was among the 23 persons killed in the fire aboard Air Canada's Flight 797.
Mathes, 54, chairman of the board of the Curtis Mathes Corp. in suburban Dallas, moved to Toronto with his wife in 1980, but flew often to Dallas to supervise the company founded by his father before the turn of the century.
The DC-9 caught fire in the air Thursday night on a flight from Dallas to Toronto. It made a forced landing at Greater Cincinnati Airport, but 23 persons died in the blaze and 19 others were injured.
'We are all saddened by the unexpected loss of a rare, wonderful and unique man,' said company president Ludd Huck. 'He will be greatly missed.'
Mathes started with the firm, which dates to 1899, as a salesman in 1948. He received a bachelor of science degree in engineering in 1950, and worked up through a succession of management positions, taking over as chairman of the board in 1975, company spokesman Ralph Campbell said.
The Mathes family shunned publicity, and bought up all outstanding shares of the firm, which was founded by Mathes' father. Mathes and his wife Melinda made Toronto their home in 1980.
The Curtis Mathes Corp. announced last July it would continue selling color television sets, but no longer would manufacture them. It closed its manufacturing plant in Athens, about 80 miles east of Dallas, laying off about 850 employees.
The corporation still operates about 650 dealerships, selling televisions made by other manufacturers under the Curtis Mathes name.
His face and slogan, 'Curtis Mathes, the most expensive television sets in America and darn well worth it,' were familiar to many television viewers through the company's commercials.
In recent months, the corporation had sought to increase its number of franchise stores and sell a broader range of products, including home computers and video equipment.
Mathes is survived by his wife and four children: Elizabeth, 2; Katherine, 5; Mary, 6; and John, 8. He also has three children by a previous marriage: Curtis Mackinsie Mathes, 29; Diana, 27; and James, 22.