1928 - 2020
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THOMAS--Herbert E., M.D. On May 15, 2020, Herbert Edwin Thomas died peacefully at age 91 in Ithaca, NY, from complications of Parkinson's disease and diabetes. A devoted husband, father, and grandfather, he practiced medicine for nearly 50 years in Pittsburgh and New York City. Born in Quebec City in 1928, Herb was a graduate of the Royal Canadian Naval College, McGill University, and Queen's University School of Medicine. He did his residency in psychiatry at The University of Michigan Medical Center. A founding member and past President of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, he served as Editor of AAPL's quarterly bulletin for 10 years. He was a member of the Board of Fellows of the National Center for Juvenile Justice. During 30 years of consulting at a maximum security prison, he developed a theory of human behavior based on an insight that interpersonal rejection is a powerful negative force that can cause profound emotional and physical pain and be a precursor to violence. His book The Shame Response to Rejection was the premise for the documentary film Reject. Throughout a life of service, he was a genuine humanitarian who saw the essential good and shared dignity in every human being. He is survived by Barbara, his wife of 69 years, and four children, Joanne Thomas Asbill (Henry) of Washington, D.C., Herbert Charles Thomas (Brooke) of Baltimore, Maryland, Heather Thomas Stevens (John) of Ithaca, New York, and Ruth Thomas Suh (Chan) of New York City, as well as fifteen grandchildren. Burial will take place in Quebec City at a date to be determined. Contributions may be made to Alternatives to Violence/NewYork, PO Box 6851, Ithaca, NY 14851 www.avpny.org/

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Published in New York Times on May 22, 2020.
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7 entries
May 27, 2020
Dear Barbara and family, my sincere condolences on the loss of your wonderful husband, father, grandpa, and physician. I only met him a few times, and my memory of him is confirmed by all these other memories. A real loss for you and for medicine. May you find solace and comfort in your love and memories and in being together as best you can in this time of Covid.
Sharon Ziegler
May 26, 2020
Dr. Herb Thomas was the Medical Director at my first job in a forensic institute.
He was the kindest, most gentle soul who was a nurturing mentor to all of us.
Every Thursday he arrived onto the unit with donuts for everyone and he encouraged enlightened, thought provoking discussions among the group while always leaving us with just a little wisdom about the challenging work we did.
He was kind and loved by so many. A life well lived certainly.
I extend deepest sympathy at your loss and hope that warm memories of Dr. Thomas, your husband, father, father-in-law, and grandfather keep you ever with him.
Rita Lukas
Rita Lukas
May 24, 2020
A man of goodness and mercy, open to the great mystery. Herb enriched my life and I'm sure the lives of all he touched. Thank you, Herb.
Larry Weiss
May 22, 2020
What a wonderful man. My small interface with Herb was through the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, where he was a welcoming and gentle mentor to one new to forensic psychiatry. He did a great deal for so many people, many of whom were ignored by most of society. Thank you, Herb, for your life.
William H Reid, MD, MPH
May 22, 2020
My deepest sympathies, Heather and family. Sending love and healing thoughts to you all during this difficult time. May your memories of your beloved father and grandfather bring you comfort and peace.
Penny Westbrook
May 22, 2020
I know that even though you have a loss, you still have some great memories. I hope those memories will give you comfort in knowing God is with you and your family lean on him in your time of sorrow.
Simone Taylor
May 22, 2020
An inspiring teacher and mentor, a great role model, and a wonderful man, he will be missed by the many he taught, healed, and comforted with unwavering dignity and respect.
Park Dietz, MD
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