Lee B. Thomas

Thomas—Lee B. Thomas, 90, on August 23, 2016, in Louisville, Ky. Lee was born on May 27, 1926, in Washington State. He became a pacifist and a Quaker after witnessing as a soldier the death and suffering from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, in World War II. He was a member of Oak Park (Ill.) Meeting before he and his wife, Joan Ellwood Thomas, moved to Louisville in 1954 and became active with Louisville Meeting, helping it to become a monthly meeting in 1962.

Lee was a Friend and a friend who exemplified a “bridge over troubled waters” for many, providing employment, ongoing care, and support for many attenders and members, whether they were actively engaged in meeting or not. Louisville Meeting both misses his presence and celebrates his life. His consistent phone calls and outreach were a life support to many. He initiated and supported endeavors aiding civil rights, world peace, and human betterment, marching with Martin Luther King Jr. and becoming a disciple of Mohandas Gandhi. A long-term supporter of Friends Committee on National Legislation, he was a successful businessman, respected and influential worldwide. His book Ethical Business Relationships: Partnerships in Peace explained his philosophy of business ethics. Although his business practices and personal policies were outstanding models to fair and ethical business management, they did not always translate well into the beliefs of social justice workers, and his open opposition to some prominent social change activists’ methods and statements often created friction that invited conflict resolution skills and understanding.

Lee was preceded in death by an infant son, Stephen, and his wife of 62 years, Joan Ellwood Thomas. He is survived by three children, Glen Thomas, Reese Thomas, and Margaret Redmon; ten grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

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