THOMAS, JOSEPH (JOE) THOMAS - age 87, of Norris, passed away January 22, 2014, at the University of Tennessee Medical Center from complications following surgery compounded by chronic health issues. Joe was a native of Detroit, Michigan, born April 23, 1926. After graduating from Cass Technical High School, Joe enlisted in the Navy in 1944 and was stationed in Hawaii where he served for two years. Returning home, he attended the University of Detroit where he earned a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering, and in 1951 he received an M.S. degree in applied mathematics from the University of Michigan. He was then accepted in the Oak Ridge School of Reactor Technology. During this course of studies he met Wanda Grim, whom he married in September, 1952. In 1953 Joe began work at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). Joe and Wanda took up residence in Norris in 1959 and joined the Norris United Methodist Church. Joe worked at ORNL for 37 years, eventually becoming the Criticality Safety Studies Project Leader and chair of the ORNL Criticality Safety Review Committee. He was a member of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was very active in the American Nuclear Society (ANS) and, for a time, was chair of the ANS Nuclear Criticality Safety Division (NCSD). He has received several accolades including the Distinguished Service Award of the ANS-NCSD in 1974, and he became an ANS Fellow in 1982. Joe is survived by his wife of 61 years, Wanda Thomas; sons, Dan Thomas (Jan) and Lee Thomas (Judy); grandsons, Taylor Thomas (Megan), Harrison Thomas, and Tom Carberry; granddaughter, Morgan Thomas; great granddaughters, Chloe Mize and Lily Thomas; brother-in-law and special friend, Mark Grim; niece, Mary Anne Koepple (Scott); niece, Margaret McMahan (Tom); nephews, Paul Grim and David Grim (Kathy); nephew, Joe Thomas (Kim); nephew, Larry Arnold (Debbie); numerous grandnieces and grandnephews; and friend and colleague, Calvin Hopper. Joe is predeceased by his daughter, Lisa Lynne Thomas Wright; parents, George Thomas Thomas and Flora Deluca Thomas; brothers, Carr and Moses Thomas; and sister, Julie Arnold. A memorial service will be held at the Norris United Methodist Church on Saturday, February 1st. The family will receive friends starting at 2:00 p.m. immediately followed by the service with interment at Norris Memorial Gardens after the service. The Reverend Wayne Hedrick will officiate. Arrangements by Holley-Gamble Funeral Home in Clinton. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be made to the Norris United Methodist Church at 62 Ridgeway, Norris, TN 37828; or to the NCSD Pioneers Scholarship Fund (www.new.ans.org/about/scholarships/) at ANS NCSD Nuclear Criticality Safety Pioneers Scholarship Fund, 555 North Kensington Avenue, La Grange Park, Illinois 60526.
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Published in Knoxville News Sentinel on Jan. 25, 2014
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