John G. Thomas, 83 of Bryan, Texas, died Wednesday, August 5, 2020.
A lifelong Texan, John was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, friend and educator. His life of service was long and full.
John was born in Pampa, Texas to JW “Lefty” and Auneeta “Casie” Thomas. His lifelong passion for service was influenced by his father, a county agent and his mother, a volunteer for many causes including many years of service to the Methodist Church.
Around age 10, he began selling the honey he gathered at a roadside stand. A lifelong advocate for farming and beekeeping, John often referred to his wife Janice of 61 years as his “first wife,” but his first love was a honey bee.
After graduating from Wellington High School in 1955, John enrolled in the entomology program at Texas A&M University. He served as a member of the Corps of Cadets in “B” battery, Anti-Aircraft Artillery (AAA) unit. Upon graduation in 1959, he married the love of his life, Janice Davis, a Wellington classmate (and a proud T-sip). He additionally went on to receive his BA in economics and MS in entomology (1961 – TAMU) and his Ph.D. (1970 – KSU).
John worked for the Texas A&M Extension Service throughout college and until his retirement in 1992. He worked several years in the Texas Panhandle as an agent and was integral to the early development of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program, which helped educate farmers on cutting edge research to better manage crop pests, reduce pesticide use and broaden non-chemical control practices such as beneficial insect use and non-chemical controls.
He was awarded the Distinguished Achievement Award from the ESA for this work, one of many awards and accolades for his entomology work he received throughout his career. He also helped implement the IPM program in multiple states working with the Federal Extension Service. This program resulted in significant impacts to agriculture and improvements in environmental quality and is still a model of agricultural practice today.
After his “first” retirement, John volunteered with multiple organizations including National Active and Retired Federal Employees, as a member/official for many of the regional, state and national Entomological Societies and a strong advocate for the Texas Beekeepers Association, which he was a member of for most of his adult life.
“Dr. John” was the driving force in getting a honey bee research facility built at the Riverside Campus of Texas A&M, providing the gift needed to finish the laboratory, the Dr. John G. and Janice Thomas Honey Bee Facility.
As a loyal Aggie, he attended games for nearly every sport at TAMU. He was a charter member of the Century Club for 52 years, and Class of ‘59 Agent for 50 years where he oversaw class funding of a Class of ’59 pillar at the Clayton W. Williams, Jr. Alumni Center as well as three Corps of Cadets Endowed Scholarships. In addition, he and his wife supported numerous educational scholarship funds at Texas A&M.
A member of the A&M United Methodist Church, John served for many years as a Sunday school teacher and church usher. He interacted with many international guests as a host for the Agriculture International Program and was always eager to both teach and learn from them.
Later in life, John enjoyed spending time with his kids and grandkids, traveling to numerous locations in the US, Canada and Mexico. His love of life and legacy to service are alive and well to this day in the many programs and institutions he has touched, and in the love of education he instilled in his family and friends.
John is preceded in death by his son, Wesley M. Thomas and his brother, Jack H. Thomas.
He is survived by family, Janice, wife of 61 years; daughters Valerie (Jeff Luzenski) Thomas and Lisa (Tommy Lukens) Fahlquist; grandkids Zach, Caelin, Cassie, Logan and Erin; his sister Ada Rummel; his sister-in-law LaVena Prichard; and numerous nieces, grand-nieces and grand-nephews.
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to the Texas Honey Bee Education Association, 400 County Road 440, Thrall, TX 76578 or by phone at 512-924-5051, or to the Texas A&MFoundation, 401 George Bush Drive, College Station, Texas 77840, designating “in memory of Dr. John G. Thomas ‘59” in the memo line, to support the Dr. Nevin Weaver Honey Bee educational excellence fund.
Services will be held in the spring of 2021 at A&M United Methodist Church. For future notification of service date, please email JGTBeekeeper1@gmail.com.