Dedicated Carnegie pastor had lifelong love of learning
In a sense, the Rev. Thomas R. Thomas was a modern-day Methodist circuit rider, who like his predecessors of the 18th and 19th centuries, traveled to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
In his 43-plus-years in the ministry, Rev. Thomas touched the lives of Methodist congregates in 10 parishes in Pennsylvania and a parish in West Virginia.
The Rev. Thomas R. Thomas of Carnegie, a minister of the United Methodist Church, died on Thursday, April 10, 2008, in UPMC South Side hospital. He was 93.
"When my father began his ministry, the rule was that Methodist ministers spend from 5 to 7 years in each parish," said Judith McKinney, a West Virginia resident. "Dad served 10 parishes in Pennsylvania and one in West Virginia.
"The moves were rather difficult for my parents, especially my mother, but, as kids, my brothers, sister and I found it exciting," McKinney added. "It was fun making new friends and living in different places."
Born and raised in Aliquippa, Rev. Thomas was one of four children in the family of steelworker Herbert Thomas and his wife, Ethel Davies Thomas.
Rev. Thomas graduated from Aliquippa High School in 1933 and like many young men in Aliquippa who graduated during the Depression, he worked in the J&L steel mill to help his family.
In 1942, he married Alice Hanger, a resident of Aliquippa whom he met at a church dance.
Rev. Thomas continued to work in the steel mill, while attending Western Theological Seminary in the North Side. Once he completed his studies and was ordained in 1950, Rev. Thomas began his ministry.
In the ensuing years, he pastored Methodist churches in Allegheny, Fayette, Washington, Somerset and Butler counties.
Judith McKinney recalled her mother's role in her father's ministry.
"Besides being a wife and a mother, my mother sang in the choir, was involved with the work of the missions and children's activities," she said.
"Dad was an avid reader, who enjoyed the classics and poetry, and up until he had to go to the hospital, he was studying Shakespeare as part of CMU's Lifelong Learning classes," McKinney added.
His other daughter, Martha Woodward, a resident of England, said her father was a fair and sensitive man when it came to his ministry and a good administrator, who would consider all points of view in a discussion on church business.
"Dad was a man of great faith who constantly witnessed for the church in all aspects of his life," said Woodward. "He also entrusted his congregations and his family to the care of God."
The Rev. Thomas is also survived by his two sons, Paul Thomas of Connecticut and David Thomas of Michigan; eight grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
He is also survived by a sister, Jean Hillman of North Carolina and was preceded in death by his wife, Alice A. Hanger Thomas in 1996 and his brothers, Frederick and Herbert Thomas.
Friends welcome from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Beinhauers, 2630 W. Liberty Ave., Dormont, where services will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
Interment in Chartiers Cemetery, Carnegie.