John F. Thomas 1944-2021
PALM BEACH, Fla. — John F. Thomas, 76, was called home to his heavenly Father on Easter Day, April 4, 2021, after a 19-month battle with pancreatic cancer.
He was born in Boston and raised in Warren, the son of Dr. John H. Thomas and Flora Thomas. He attended Syracuse University, where he earned a BA and then an MBA in marketing and finance. He was also a devoted member and lifelong supporter of the Psi Upsilon fraternity.
At Syracuse, he met his wife, then Barbara St. Clair, to whom he was married 48 years and fathered two children, Molly and Brenner. Their loving partnership took them from Syracuse to Florida, where he began his long tenure at Paine Webber / UBS in Palm Beach. During his more than three decades there, Thomas was given every promotion available to an investment executive, achieving the title of senior vice president, Investments in 1987. In 1992, he was named to PaineWebber’s Focus List Committee, an internal advisory group that consisted of 13 employees of the firm. Thomas was recognized for his hard work as a trusted and practiced professional and was routinely named over the years to the firm’s Chairman Council, which recognizes top performers nationally.
In addition to his professional duties and successes, Thomas was devoted to his community and its nonprofits and institutions. He was an advisor to the Kirkwood Fund, an endowed fund of the Community Foundation of Palm Beach and Martin counties. For several years, he served as chairman of the board of The Benjamin School, as well as serving on its board in many other capacities. He was a member of the board for the Law Enforcement Assistant Foundation; was a founding member of the board of the Gordie Foundation, an organization that promotes alcohol awareness at college campuses; and a member of the Philanthropic Advisory Council at The Place of Hope, a faith-based child welfare and foster organization.
A man of deep faith, Thomas gave his time and energy to the churches he attended over the years. He was an elder and chairman of many committees and initiatives of The First Presbyterian Church of North Palm Beach. He similarly served in multiple leadership roles at The Royal Poinciana Chapel of Palm Beach, where he and his wife, Barbara, have been members for the past several years. During that time, he proudly served as vice president of the board of directors, chaired the Stewardship and Development Committee, chaired the Chapel Investment Committee and the Now and Tomorrow capital campaign and was a former treasurer for the chapel.
Behind his singular accomplishments was a man known for this indefatigable work ethic, kindness to others, devotion to his wife and children, infectious optimism, and commitment to God, country and community. His family called him “the mayor.” He could befriend anyone anywhere and was on a first-name basis with the staff at the local post office, the young man that bagged his groceries at Publix and the nurses that lovingly tended to him in his last days. In his world view, everyone deserved the dignity of being known.
He is survived by his wife, Barbara Thomas; their daughter, Molly Sealy and her husband, Michael; their grandchildren, Lilly, Georgia and Peter; their son, Brenner Thomas; his sister, Karen Cohn and her husband, David.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, April 13, 2021, at The Royal Poinciana Chapel at 60 Cocoanut Row in Palm Beach. In light of public health concerns, the service will also be livestreamed. Those wishing to watch the memorial remotely can visit roy alpoincianachapel.org, scroll down the homepage and click on “View Livestreams” at the appointed time.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in his name to The Royal Poinciana Chapel, 60 Cocoanut Row, Palm Beach, FL 33480; Trustbridge Hospice Foundation, 5300 East Ave., West Palm Beach, FL 33407; or Place of Hope, 9078 Isaiah Lane, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418.