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Samuel Wilson Thomas

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THOMAS, SAMUEL WILSON, 74, died Thursday, October 4, 2012, at his home.

Born on January 21, 1938, in Chestnut Hill, PA., Sam moved to Louisville shortly after his graduation from Chestnut Hill Academy. He received his B.A. (1960) and Ph.D. (1964) in chemistry from the University of Louisville.

Although Sam taught for a short time at UofL, his life and career were forever changed when he began his long association with Locust Grove, overseeing its restoration and serving as its first director and curator. The log house there was his home for nearly two decades.

Sam is the author of 18 seminal books on Kentucky topics, all meticulously researched and primarily focused on Louisville: its neighborhoods, landmarks, and corporations.

His most recent work includes histories of St. Matthews, Anchorage, the Cherokee Triangle, Crescent Hill, Oxmoor farm, Cave Hill Cemetery, and Churchill Downs, but the project closest to his heart was an overview of early Louisville architecture.

He edited numerous publications for The Courier-Journal's book division and published many articles on a host of Kentucky subjects. He also co-authored with his brother Jim, The Simple Spirit, a pictorial history of Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill.

He was also involved in the restoration of the Jefferson County Courthouse, the Ferguson Mansion headquarters of The Filson Historical Society, and the 1785 log house at Oxmoor. He was a founder of Preservation Alliance and the George Rogers Clark Press, a member of the Louisville Landmarks and Preservation Districts Commission, and archivist of Jefferson County.

Sam is survived by his wife, Debbie; brother, Jim (Susanna); niece, Sheena McGuffey; and nephews, Ian Thomas, Mason Thomas and Cas McGuffey.

Sam chose cremation and requested that no funeral or memorial service be held. The family will receive friends from 4-7 p.m. Monday, October 8, 2012 in the Audubon Room at Locust Grove, 561 Blankenbaker Lane.

Memorial gifts may be directed to Locust Grove or to the University of Louisville Photographic Archives, to which Sam gave his collection of photographs and research materials.


Published in The Courier-Journal from Oct. 6 to Oct. 8, 2012
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