American Field

Bird Dog Foundation Board Member

John W. Thomas Has Died

By Capt. Gary. Lockee | Nov 02, 2017
John W. Thomas

LaGrange, Tenn. — After a short illness, John Willard Thomas, Jr., a resident of Rocky Point, N. C., and formerly of High Point, N. C., died Thursday evening, October 26.

John was an avid lover of the vast American out-of-doors. This love lead him to become involved with training, handling and competing with his Retrievers in local and National Retriever field trial competitions. He was highly dedicated and successful to the Retriever field trial sport and a significant devotee and contributor to many aspects of the Retriever bird dog pastime. These many contributions led to his election to the Retriever Field Trial Hall of Fame and to his appointment to the Board of Directors of the Bird Dog Foundation in Grand Junction, Tenn.

Mr. Thomas was born in 1927 and was the older son of the late J. Willard and Mavis Burchette Thomas.

After high school Mr. Thomas entered the U. S. Navy and was in training to be an aircraft mechanic when WWII ended. He graduated from Virginia Tech in 1949 with a B. S. Manufacturing Engineering degree.

John’s life revolved around his beloved family, leadership, and service. He began his career at Thomas Built Buses in High Point, N. C., as an engineer and then moved into sales as a regional sales manager, and was subsequently selected to lead the company’s sales effort. When he was promoted to president and later to CEO/chairman, he continued the company’s growth to become the largest United States manufacturer of school buses. He retired from daily duties at the company in 1992.

Mr. Thomas held a considerable number of leadership positions both locally and nationally. He served both Forest Hills Presbyterian Church (High Point) and First Presbyterian Church of Wilmington as an elder. He very much loved and was committed to the Boy Scouts, both locally and nationally. It was on the national level that he headed up Scouting’s High Adventure Camps and International Jamboree Committees. He served as National Commissioner, Scouting’s highest ranking volunteer. He received Scouting’s highest service award, the Silver Buffalo. However, his greatest pride was knowing he was father and grandfather to eleven Eagle Scouts.

Mr. Thomas became a board member and then president of North Carolina Coastal Land Trust, a further expression of his love of the outdoors and natural spaces.

He was predeceased by his wife, Tommie Munford, his brother, Perley A. “Pat” Thomas, his sons, Chris (Teresa) and Stuart (Andrea); and his granddaughter, Emma. He is survived by his wife, Judith; sons John III (Beth), Mat, and Bruce (Cindy) as well as thirteen grandchildren and six great grandchildren, along with Judy’s children Stan (Sharon), Bryan (Terry), Sara and Jason (Angie) who together have seven children that John also considered as grandchildren He will be missed by his family and many friends. A celebration of his life was held November 1 at the First

Presbyterian Church of Wilmington.

Remembrances (1)
Posted by: E Lawton Huggins | Nov 10, 2017 13:28

I am saddened by this news.  During my young adult life, I campaigned my retrievers in hunt test hosted on his grounds in Eastern NC and judged "white coat trials" in which he competed as an Amateur.  Mr. Thomas was a great supporter of the retriever game and I enjoyed knowing him.  He was a giver and folks like him have encouraged me to be a giver for the Association of SC Field Trial Clubs.  Guns Up, Mr. Thomas!

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