Senator Jon Charles Thomas, Sr.
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Senator Jon Charles Thomas, Sr., 74 of Gainesville passed away on Wednesday, June 12, 2013 with his devoted wife by his side.
Jon was born on January 22, 1939 in Uniontown, Pennsylvania to Robert and Myrtle Thomas. While attending high school, Jon worked at a funeral home where he was drawn to the industry by the care and support he witnessed funeral directors provide to those in great distress. After graduating from Pompano Beach High School, Jon enlisted in the United States Army and was honorably discharged upon the completion of his service. After separating from the service, Jon graduated with honors from Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Service in 1962 where he also served as president of his class. In 1964 he started his first funeral home in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. This business initiated his career of introducing many successful and innovative funeral operations while maintaining professional tradition, integrity and dignity. Most recently Jon served as the Chief Operating Officer of Forest Meadows Funeral Homes, Cemeteries & Crematory for Gainesville; Moring Funeral Home in Melrose and Evans-Carter Funeral Home, High Springs, Florida and A Direct Cremations in Gainesville and Summerville, Florida. Jon also served as president of Thomas-Pierce & Company, LLC in Gainesville, Florida. Jon and a business associate began this company in 1986 after Jon had officially retired. Jon travelled throughout the United States and Canada providing succession planning services for the professional funeral and cemetery industries.
Jon was very involved in his community which led him to his legislative career. Jon was first elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1970. As his accomplishments mounted and his reputation grew as an honest, fair and concerned legislator, Jon was elected to the Florida State Senate in 1974 where he served Florida's 30th District. During his Legislative career Jon served as Chairman of the Health and Rehabilitative Services Committee in the Florida Senate, sat on the Appropriations Committee and the Commerce Committee, Chaired the Governmental Efficiency Study Commission (1969-1970) and was Chairman of the Broward County Legislative Delegation. For his exceptional service to the State of Florida Jon was recognized as the Legislator of the Year in 1973, 1976, and 1977; as Conservation Legislator by the Wildlife Federation and the National Wildlife Foundation and also received the Wildlife Special Service Award in 1977. Jon sponsored many legislative initiatives that impact all residents of Florida in a positive manner even into the 21st Century.
In addition to holding public office, Jon's other public service was extraordinary. He served on numerous boards including the Florida Real Estate Commission Education and Research Foundation Advisory Committee (1990-1991) and the State of Florida Medical Examiner (2009-present). Jon also served as a Board Member and President/Chairman of Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce, the Bay North Homeowners Association, Goodwill Industries, Leon High School Cheerleading Association and the Leon County High School Foundation. Jon was also a member of Gainesville Chamber of Commerce, GACC Quarterback Club, and the Gainesville Rotary Club. Other affiliations included: Gainesville Masonic Lodge #41, Keystone Chapter of the Royal Arch Masons, Scottish rite in Tallahassee, Morocco Temple in Jacksonville, Marzuq Temple in Tallahassee, and theTrinity Methodist Church in Gainesville.
For his public service Jon received many accolades. He was especially honored to have been recognized as the 1967 Young Man of the Year in Fort Lauderdale, to have received the Leonard L. Abness Human Relations Award in 1978 by the Anti- Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, and to have been awarded the Ethical Business Award from the Gainesville Rotary Club in 2012.
The friendships and relationships Jon formed in Gainesville greatly enriched and strengthened him in his final years. The many dear friends Jon developed through Rotary, Trinity Methodist Church, and all the groups in which he was involved brought great joy to his life. He especially loved his Emmaus Bible Study group and appreciated their meeting in his home during the last months of his life. He was also grateful for many cards, prayers and support generously given by so many friends.
Jon is preceded in death by his parents Robert and Myrtle Thomas and his brother James Thomas. He is survived by his wife Patsy Ann Fowler Thomas; children Timothy James Thomas (Lance Licciardi), Hollee Ann Bollman (Kyle) and Jon Charles Thomas II (Karen); a brother, Gerald Thomas (Joy); and grandchildren Cole, Hannah and Miles Bollman and Charlie, Julia and Sailor Thomas.
As the patriarch of the Thomas family, Jon's legacy is: his love, valued life lessons, strength to meet each new day with a zest for life, a commitment to do the best at every task and especially, to love and care for each other and those we meet.
Funeral Services for Senator Thomas will be held on Sunday, June 23, 2013 at 2:00pm at Trinity United Methodist Church, 4000 NW 53rd Avenue, Gainesville, FL 32653. There will be a visitation on Saturday, June 22, 2013 from 5:00pm-7:00pm at Forest Meadows Funeral Home, 725 NW 23rd Avenue, Gainesville, FL 32609, (352)378-2528.
Please continue Jon's love of giving to others by contributing to
in his name or to one of his favorite causes:
The Gainesville Fisher House, PO Box 358296, Gainesville, FL 32635
Shands Long Term Patient Housing - Fund 018039, www.shandsgiving.org
Haven Hospice of Gainesville, FL, 4200 NW 90th Blvd., Gainesville, FL 32606
Published in Tallahassee Democrat from June 20 to June 21, 2013