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...
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.