Paul F. Thomas '42

Paul Thomas, a life-long Texan except for time at Amherst and in World War II, died on April 14, 2007.  He was born in El Paso, TX, and graduated from Austin High School in El Paso before coming to Amherst.

At Amherst he belonged to Phi Gam and the Christian Association, played freshman football, worked on the Touchstone magazine for four years, and sang in the Glee Club.

After Pearl Harbor, Paul left college to join the US Army but returned for our Amherst graduation.  He was assigned to the army air corps and wound up flying fifty missions as a ball turret gunner in B-54s in the South Pacific.

Paul returned to the El Paso area after the war.  He started as a farmer and then branched into ranching and real estate.  He married Rosalie Orr in 1948, and they had four daughters.  Paul was very proud of his daughters’ achievements, noting in our 50 year Reunion book that one was a lawyer, one a broker, and the third an outside saleswoman.  The fourth, sadly, died as she was about to finish dental school.  Paul also lost his wife in 1982.  

Over the years, Paul became very active in community affairs.  He was a member of the El Paso County Sheriff’s posse, superintendent of the El Paso County Livestock Show and Rodeo, on the county school board, and Democratic chairman of District 90 for thirty years.  In addition, he was director of the El Paso Valley Cotton Association, past president of the Farmers Gin, and a member of the El Paso Board of Realtors.  He was also the co-author of the US Agricultural Act of 1965, which was in effect for five years.  

The great respect in which Paul was held in the El Paso community is shown by the fact that, in addition to twelve pallbearers, there were ten honorary pallbearers.  Paul is survived by his three daughters, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.  

—Ted Heisler ’42