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Cummings & Davis Funeral Home

13201 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH

The safety of our loved ones is paramount. The service will be private-restricted access. Please celebrate with us by wearing navy blue and watching the service via livestream. CLICK HERE.

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OBITUARY

Jerome (Jerry) W Thomas

May 19, 1948August 7, 2020

Jerome Wayne Thomas (largely known as Jerry) was born in Cleveland, Ohio on May 19, 1948. He was raised by a community of family members in Youngstown, Cleveland, and Los Angeles (California). Jerry was the first of three children born to Ida Bell Thomas. Jerry graduated from Dorsey High School in Los Angeles, California, where he played basketball and developed his passion for architectural design. He continued his education at UCLA, where he studied architectural engineering, music, and business.

Jerry Thomas earned respect within the gospel industry as one of the most active composers, producers, and artists of our time. He was instrumental in gospel music for over 50 years. He produced and arranged numerous albums working with some of the most highly respected gospel artists in the business. Jerry traveled around the world spreading the gospel in song through concerts and workshops. As a clinician, lecturer, and spokesman for the gospel music industry, Jerry has received numerous awards and citations for his outstanding service. Among his many, many accomplishments, Jerry was the Executive Producer of the weekly gospel television show “Celebration” that was on channel 8 in Cleveland, Ohio. He was the Director of his own production company and founder and President of the Christian Music Academy. On the national level, Jerry has rendered his musical expertise, talent, skills, and service by serving as musician at numerous churches in Ohio, California, Florida, and Tennessee. Internationally, Jerry has worked with and is called the Godfather of the Stockholm Gospel Music Festival in Stockholm, Sweden. His international influence was also significant in London, England, Krefeld, Germany, and Vilnius, Lithuania.

Jerry’s influence will be heard in the music world for many years to come. Jerry was preceded in death by his mother, Ida Bell Thomas and his brother, Jeffrey Thomas. His siblings, Krystal Thomas and Barbara Beall will continue to celebrate his life. He leaves his family behind to cultivate his legacy, Ayana Thomas (Sarai), Geoffrey and Hillary Thomas, Nicole and Richard Young (Noelani and Richard Jr.), Audrey Thomas, and Doris Warren. His God-Children (and their grands and great-grands) will cherish memories of him forever, Aja D. Graves, Shanina Anderson, Lisa Wallace, Shirlein Leggon, Melissa Allen, Irene Collins, Nicole McElrath, Mario Walker, Tameka and Koren McCollum.

It is impossible to capture all of Jerry’s accomplishments in one program, for one moment. He was simply amazing and his presence will live on through each of you. Keep telling his stories and sharing the many ways that Jerry Thomas impacted you!

Services

  • Services Private

    Tuesday, August 18, 2020

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Memories

Jerome (Jerry) W Thomas

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Brenda Ruffin

August 18, 2020

Condolences to the Thomas’s family May the comfort of Lord be with you during these trying times 🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽

Brenda Ruffin

Jon-Anders Marthinussen

August 18, 2020

We give our greatest condolences to Mr Thomas family for your loss!
Words can't describe the importance of Jerry´s approach to us and our choir, Vasa Gospel on our first tour to the States 1997. He was the warmest and kindest manager and he lead us thru a blessed tour. Not only the managing parts, but the spiritual as well.
Personally I learned very much thru his leadership in so many ways.
And I remember thinking when he said: "Many people will invite you to the states, but not many will see it thru - I will", will he live up to his promise? Oh-that he did! Three times!
We have never forgotten Mr Thomas and we never will. That is a promise.
I look forward to playing organ with him in heaven.

Thank you for giving us the possibility to share this with you!

Anne-Li & Jon-Anders Marthinussen
founders of VasaGospel, Stockholm Sweden

Maria Nordenback-Kress

August 18, 2020

I will never forget the first time I met Jerry when he came to us for the Stockholm Gospelchoir Festival in August 1989. We had the chance to have Tramaine Hawkins as our guest and he came as her pianist at that time.
Me an my colleague Lasse Axelsson immediately felt tremendous support from Jerry an he was so much more than just a pianist; he saw the vision with the whole event and he saw all the people working with us and he encouraged us all and shared his experiences and knowledge “how to do things better and better” and he came to play a very important role in how the Festival was able to develop. I believe God led him to us! Over the years Jerry helped us get in contact with and bring so many beautiful people over to Sweden - singers, musicians, groups and choirs - such a blessing!!!
I am shocked that he’s now left us but I believe he’s in a wonderful place, overflowed with peace and joy in the presence of God❤️

Dear Jerry, one day we shall meet again where the gospelpraise never has to end - what a wonderful thing! 🎶

My thoughts and prayers are with his beautiful family!
God Bless You all!
Love in Christ,
Maria💕

Mia Nilson

August 18, 2020

”Great is Thy Faithfulness” that was Jerrys immediate answer, as he was asked which was his favourite song in March of 1995, as two young Swedish students came to Cleveland for a film project called ”Living the Gospel”. Of course, we chose Cleveland, because there was Jerry and all of his friends in ministry. And there was his beautiful family – opening up their home for us… for weeks!
We have known Jerry since the year of 1989, when he first came to Stockholm as the keyboardist of Ms Tramaine Hawkins. We have worked together with Jerry, sharing in faith, ministry and vision for decades, but most of all, Jerry has been our friend and we are blessed to still be extended family with all the Thomases and their friends.
Jerry was successful himself being busy starting projects, pulling recordings through and building a school. But even more significant for Jerry was his urge to make others succeed. The wounds of early life made Jerry look out for especially young people in need. We recall one of countless tours to Cleveland with our groupe By Grace: Kirk Franklin had just released the song Love (”– a word that comes and goes, but few people really know what it means to really love somebody”). On every occasion we would sing it, Jerry stood up and asked us to sing it one more time and for the congregation to meditate on these words. The music and the Gospel itself were always linked together for Jerry: success to him was when the Gospel and love was shared – in any way. And faithfulness was important for Jerry to stress as a key expression of love.
We are priviledged and blessed to, along with our families, have known Jerry. Our kids’ ”Uncle Jerry” will be truly missed. Our deepest condoleances to Audrey, Geoff and Ayana – we share your loss and grief.

Mia Berglund and Mia Nilson with families

Lasse Axelsson, Stockholm Gospel Choir Festival Organization

August 18, 2020

In 1988 we were a couple of young, enthusiastic christians in Sweden who had decided to start a Gospel Choir Festival. Our aim was to learn more about Gospel music and to spread it in the whole country. The first year we gathered about 500 singers and the guest choir from the States was Fellowship Choir from Chicago. The second year, Tramaine Hawkins accepted to come, along with her pianist: Mr Jerry Thomas. The rest is golden history including thousands of singers and musicians getting together to do workshops, concerts and festivals.

Jerry saw the potential in spreading the gospel through this music and immediately became a passionate friend and a powerful part of our team in looking out for new artists and choirs in the US to bring over to our annual festival. With his experience and contacts, we could always be sure he would bring the best – people willing to generously share their gifts and talents with us. One year, Jerry was able to bring his own group, The Glories of Gospel, and together we presented the history and heritage of black Gospel Music. The Stockholm Gospel Choir Festival celebrated its 30th jubilee in 2018 and many of the singers and musicians that we had gotten to know through Jerry, were able to come and celebrate with us.

Jerry also continued throughout his whole life to facilitate and manage uncountable tours for Swedish choirs in the US. Jerry’s motive was always a passion for the Gospel and a passion for young people, making sure he would do anything to enable us to grow in Christ and to spread the Gospel through music. Jerry was also very clear on one thing: Sharing the love of God is not limited to a certain expression for people of a certain color of skin. He always preached that love and generosity is key.

We are grateful beyond words for Jerrys life and legacy and will promise to make sure that it continues to live on. Rest in peace, Jerry, ’til we meet again.

Lasse Axelsson and the Stockholm Gospel Choir Festival Organization

Michael Terry

August 18, 2020

I was blessed and privileged to have worked, mentored and devolped a bond with my big brother Jerry.... I was an original member of his group The Gospel Experience where, under his leadership, I learned what a true music ministry entailed. Jerry groomed, mentored and taught me the necessary skills to become a better musician... I was blessed to travel the world with him sharing this Gospel music to many... He was more than a close friend to me, he was my brother. Although he is with the Lord now and not physically here, I have a lifetime of memories to cherish and to reflect on just what an awesome guy he is. Thanks buddy for all you instilled in me and I thank God for allowing you to be a part of my life. Love you man, and I will see you again at "The Meeting".

Dzifa-Benita Bright

August 17, 2020

Jerry Thomas was extraordinary man, a true gift from God, Anointed and committed to spreading the gospel through his music. He never wavered on his commitment to his gift. He was a blessing to all who met him.
In the early 1970's after moving into the Park Centre I met Jerry and we became good friends. Shortly afterward, my mother the amazing Shirley Hawk moved in and she met Jerry. She immediately invested in him, his vision and we all shared in our love for God.
In 1975 after my brother Todd’s death, my mother turned her grief into action for good. Creating the Todd Lyles Scholarship Foundation, she took the poems and writings of Todd and published a book called Listen. It was then that we got to see Jerry’s genius on display. Jerry wrote, produced and recorded an entire album titling it “Listen”. Then he, my mom and his group The Gospel Experience created an entire musical dramatization of the book, raised money for the scholarship foundation and awarded scholarships to high school students on their way to college.
Wow, Jerry was a creative genius and with Shirley Hawk in his corner there were no limits for what was possible. Thank you Jerry for your unwavering love and commitment to our family. We thank God that he allowed you to bless our lives. Rest in power! You will not be forgotten. Love you, Dzifa Benita Bright

Lars Johanson

August 17, 2020

Spectra Gospel Choir in Sweden send our condolences to the Thomas family. He has been a mentor and invaluable supporter of our choir. We had concerts and workshops with him Sweden and he arranged a tour for us in the Cleveland area that blessed us deeply both as a choir and as individuals. He was a pioneer and a driving force in bringing out the Gospel music to Sweden and other countries overseas and building networks around the globe. Jerry’s legacy will be an inspiration for us to continue to share the Gospel music and message of Jesus Christ in Sweden. Rest in peace. We will sing together again in heaven

Irma McQueen

August 17, 2020

My prayers and condolences to the family of Jerry Thomas. He truly left his mark on this world. My aunt, Pastor Roberta Vines, appreciates all the assistance he gave her in her ministry at Confirmed Word Faith Center. I am thankful that he chose me to sing with Jerry Thomas & Friends for a world conference in Stockholm, Sweden. It is a spiritual experience I will always remember. I am still in contact with a young lady I met there. May the memories you hold dear bring you comfort.

richard wright

August 17, 2020

Jerry was a tough choir director, but fun, he would take us home from choir rehearsal in his Volkswagon, nobody had a car back then, we were teenagers at the Pentecostal Church of Christ, then on parkwood in the Glenville Area. He had this Big Afro. He played for several churches in the Cleveland Area, and brought in many national gospel artist to sing ; Thomas Whitfield , Walter Hawkins...ect, He loved Cleveland and started a music school. He will surely be missed.

FROM THE FAMILY

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