Russell Eaton Thomas
Family and friends mourn the loss of Russell Eaton Thomas, who died on April 29, 2021. He was born December 26, 1946 to Paul A. and Margaret Eaton Thomas and grew up in Greencastle, Indiana. Russell attended the Governor Dummer Academy and Harvard University, graduating magna cum laude in 1969 with a BA in Spanish Literature. After college he lived briefly in California before settling permanently in Austin in 1971. In the fifty years that followed he continued to develop his multiple gifts as a musician, writer, and raconteur. He made lifelong friends across the many circles in which he moved: as a waiter at Andre's, Ricco's, Old Pecan Street Café; at his Helms Street co-op's famous Halloween parties; as a staunch supporter of Austin's cooperative movement; and in his work at the University of Texas Benson Latin American Collection and the Austin Public Library, where he retired after many years with the Manchaca Road branch.
Russell was a gifted storyteller, whether he was entertaining his companions with his life adventures narrated from his uniquely sardonic and self-effacing perspective, or writing pithy essays on topics like the life of Sandra Dee, or creating a Belle Epoch style pictorial treatise on Ben White Blvd. He was an astute observer of the lives and doings around him, noticing and calling out acts of generosity, commitment and virtuosity. For the rising generation of his nephews and the children of his friends he was an enthusiastic wholehearted advocate. In the late 1990s for a number of years he was the caregiver for his father "Pat" and created a cheerful supportive home for the two of them.
Music of all kinds came from his baby grand Steinway, and he won the 1973 Kerrville Ragtime Contest. He was a birder, a hiker in the Rocky Mountains, a swimmer of Texas rivers and springs. A brilliant commentator on daily minutiae, he was central to several groups of friends devoted to wit, humor, humanity, historic houses, books, good meals, the movies, and each other.
He is survived by brother Andy Thomas (Marit Tully) of Albuquerque, NM; sister Lucy Maret (John Maret) of Niwot, CO; nephews John Charles Maret and Russell Thomas Maret (Annie Schlechter) and great-nephew Soren Jacob Maret.
Memorial contributions in his name may be made to Austin Public Library online or in person. A celebration of his life is planned for the fall.
Published in Austin American-Statesman from Jun. 4 to Jun. 13, 2021.