Obituary


(Dec. 12, 1996, Gazette)

Dr. Gordon Thomas, former executive director of the International Grenfell Association, died Oct. 17 in Halifax at the age of 76.

Dr. Thomas was well known for his contribution to the health of the people of this province through his work with the Grenfell Association, but he was also a former clinical professor of surgery at Memorial University, and an honorary graduate.

Dr. Thomas was born in Ottawa and educated at McGill University. He arrived in St. Anthony in 1946 as medical officer and surgeon for the Grenfell Association. He was appointed executive director and surgeon-in-chief of the International Grenfell Association in 1960 -- positions he held until 1977. From 1977-95 he was honorary chairman of the board of the International Grenfell Association.

Dr. Thomas will be remembered for his commitment to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador; among the many initiatives he spearheaded was the introduction of the first complete regional hospital service in St. Anthony.

In the oration written for Dr. Thomas when he received an honorary D.Sc. at Memorial in 1977, Dr. William Pryse-Phillips described him as "a man of iron will who has insisted in his every action that the meanness of the land has generated the majesty of its people and who has, in response, provided, both for now and for later, [a] system of medical care of national standard which is theirs by right and not by privilege."

In addition to being a member of the Memorial University community, Dr. Thomas held an associate professorship at Dalhousie University, and held honorary degrees from Dalhousie and Acadia University. He was also an officer of the Order of Canada, officer of the Order of St. John, and a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons.

At the time of his death, Dr. Thomas lived in Mabou, N.S., and was honorary chairman of the Grenfell Regional Health Services Board. He is survived by his wife Patricia (Lister) Thomas, two daughters and one son, 10 grandchildren, and many other relatives, friends and colleagues.

-- with files from Along the Coast (September/October 1996).