Wednesday, June 10, 2015

In Memoriam Kelly Thomas. Tuba Professor, Father, Husband, Friend.

Dr. Kelly Thomas was a good friend and colleague. We were hired the same year at UA, performed together on "Octuba-ween" and in the Faculty Follies at UA, played a lot of golf together, ate too many Chipotle burros and JJ Gargantuan Subs at Jimmy John's, and generally laughed about everything.

Kelly taught me about breakfast burritos at Los Betos. I still have an irregular heartbeat.

Kelly was there for me as a friend when a relationship ended in 2002, and helped me move forward. The night she left, he came over and took me to dinner and to see Star Wars. He told me "watching Yoda whoop some ass" would make me feel better. He was right.

Another memory special to me... Kelly and Jana had me in their car, going to lunch one day and in the back seat was a copy of "What to Expect When You're Expecting." They kept waiting for me to notice it, which I finally did. I was out of it, I guess, and just flipped through it for a minute. They both started cracking up and THEN it hit me... they were having their first baby.

Although I've not seen them in almost 10 years, I nonetheless hold a special place in my heart for Kelly & Jana. I'm shocked and saddened by his too-soon departure from this life. Although he's gone to see Heavenly Father, he will be much missed here below.

Dum invicem rursus occurremus... Until we meet again.

Below are articles on Kelly's passing from various news outlets, as well as some pictures.  I've complied them here with links to the originals.  Just wanted them in one place.

If you knew Kelly, or feel so inclined, please consider donating and sharing the funding site for Jana and their four young children...


In Memoriam: Kelly Thomas

Kelly Thomas, a tuba professor in the School of Music, passed away unexpectedly Sunday night.

Visitation will be held 5:00-7:30 p.m. this Friday with the funeral immediately following at Laycock Hobbs Funeral Home in Athens, Tennessee. The burial will be 11:00 a.m. Saturday at Clearwater Baptist Church, 964 County Road 180 in Athens.

Thomas was appointed tuba/euphonium instructor at UT in 2014.

“Even though Kelly was only with us for a short time, he made a huge impact on our school,” said Jeff Pappas, director of the School of Music. “He will be missed.”

Prior to his appointment at UT, Thomas was the tuba/euphonium professor at the University of Arizona for thirteen years. A native of Flagstaff, Arizona, he began his studies at Tennessee Technological University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in music education. He earned a master’s degree in music education and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at Arizona State University.

Thomas performed at the International Tuba Euphonium Association conferences in Linz, Austria; Las Vegas, Nevada; Conway, Arkansas; Cincinnati, Ohio; Tucson, Arizona; and Regina, Saskatchewan.

He was a founding member and tubist for the Original Wildcat Jass Band, a traditional New Orleans and Chicago jazz band. The touring ensemble has appeared throughout the Southwest and Mexico as well as New Mexico, California, and Colorado, and has released released several recordings.

Thomas is survived by his wife, Jana, and four children. A memorial fund has been established for the Thomas family at Give Forward.

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Ex-UA music prof dies from allergic reaction to wasp sting

According to a Facebook posting from the UA's Fred Fox School of Music, Thomas died from an allergic reaction to a wasp sting. He was 40 years old.

Thomas, a native of Flagstaff who earned his undergrad degree at Tennessee Tech University and his graduate degrees at Arizona State University, taught tuba and euphonium at the UA from 2001 until 2014. He took a position last fall with The University of Tennessee Knoxville; his wife was from Tennessee and the couple had family in the area, said Bruce Chamberlain, a lUA colleague and director of the Fred Fox School of Music choral activities.

"We are just shocked that he is no longer with us on this earth," Chamberlain said.

"We are absolutely heart-broken," said Willie Hintze, former music director at  Sovereign Grace Church on the north west side, where Thomas was active. "He was one of the nicest, most giving guys I’ve ever known." 

Hintze, who had known Thomas since 2006 and whose two children were friends with Thomas's four kids, said the families were also involved in a local homeschooling group. Hintze moved to Gilbert in 2011 but the families stayed in touch, he said.

Thomas is survived by his wife, Jana, and their four young children, Janelle, Keljan, Joelle and Kenton. Funeral services will be in Tennessee. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. June 20 at Northland Christian Assembly, 1715 W. University Ave., in Flagstaff. Chamberlain said no services have been planned yet in Tucson.  

Original Article from

"Our Lovable Nature": Remembering UT Tuba Professor Kelly Thomas

Matt Shafer Powell
University of Tennessee School of Music instructor Dr. Kelly Thomas died Sunday night after suffering an allergic reaction to a wasp sting.  Thomas was 40 years old.

In a message sent out to School of Music faculty, students, staff and alumni, Director Jeff Pappas referred to Thomas as "our beloved tuba professor".

Thomas was hired to teach tuba and euphonium at the University of Tennessee in 2014.  A native of Arizona, Thomas began his studies at Tennessee Tech, where he earned a Bachelor's Degree in Music Education.  He went on to earn his Master's and Doctorate degrees at Arizona State University.  
"Even though Kelly was only with us for a short time," Pappas wrote, "he made a huge impact on our school."

Thomas was married with four children.  Details about services have not yet been released.

Original Article from WUOT 

Kelly's Obituary

Serving McMinn County Since 1986

DR. KELLY GENE THOMAS, age 40 of Niota, TN, of the Tranquility Community, passed away Sunday, June 7, 2015, in Starr Regional Medical Center in Athens, TN due to a severe allergic reaction. 

He was native and resident most of his life of Flagstaff, Arizona, former resident of Tucson, Arizona and resident of McMinn County, Tenn. since December 2013.

Dr. Thomas was appointed tuba/euphonium professor at the University of Tennessee in 2014. Prior to his appointment at UT, Dr. Thomas was the tuba/euphonium professor at the University of Arizona for thirteen years. He earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Tennessee Technological University, Master of Music degree from Arizona State University, and Doctor of Musical arts degree at Arizona State University in 2006. Dr. Thomas had participated with many tuba ensembles throughout the United States and World and was a founding member and tubist for the Original Wildcat Jass Band, a traditional New Orleans and Chicago jazz band and had been featured throughout the southwest and Mexico as well as New Mexico, California, and Colorado.  Kelly also founded and was a featured member of an exciting new chamber ensemble Eufonix and was an artist and clinician for Besson/Buffet Crampon and also a member of University of Tennessee Faculty Brass Quintet. 

He was a member of the International Tuba Euphonium Association, and a member of Cornerstone Church of Knoxville, TN, and was preceded in death by infant son, Kelton Thomas.

Survivors : Wife of 18 years:  Jana Elizabeth Simpson Thomas of Niota, Tenn. Two Daughters: Janelle Thomas and Joelle Thomas  Two Sons: Keljan Thomas and Kenton  Thomas all of Niota, Tenn. Father and Mother: Ken and Nancy Parker Thomas of Flagstaff, Ariz. Brother and Sister-in-law: Ross and Julia Thomas of  Phoenix, Ariz., Sister: Tawni  Wimberley of Flagstaff, Ariz. Father-in-law and Mother-in-law: Milton and Judy Bohannon Simpson of Niota, Tenn., Sister-in-law and husband: Jody and Steve Dake of Niota, Tenn., Several nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be 7:30 P.M. Friday in the chapel of Laycock-Hobbs Funeral Home with Rev. Bill Kittrell and Rev.  Walt Alexander officiating.

Interment will be 11:00 A.M. Saturday in Clearwater Cemetery. Active pallbearers will be Steve Dake, Jamin Dake, Mike Simmons, Scott Wilson, Sam Olsen, Glenn Bohannon, Mike Ball, and Mitchel Bohannon. Honorary pallbearers will be Cody Shell and Joseph DeChristina. 

In lieu of flowers contributions or donations to help Jana and the children may be made to or in care of Jana Thomas,  The Kelly Thomas Family Memorial Fund at Citizens National Bank. 
The family will receive friends from 5-7:30 P.M. Friday in the funeral home.