In lieu of flowers sent to honor Joel, the family requests that a donation be made in Joel's name to The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption

Joel Thomas

May 10, 1957September 27, 2020

Joel James Thomas passed away Sunday, September 27, 2020. He was 63 years old. He died suddenly, doing something he loved, playing hockey. He is survived by his wife of 36 years, Shelly, and their three sons Graham, Spencer and Michael; his sisters Karrol and Beverly and his brother Dennis. He is predeceased by his parents Keith and Avis.

Joel obtained a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration: Accounting from California State University, L.A. in 1979, became a Certified Public Accountant in 1982; obtained a Master of Business Administration from the University of Southern California in 1986; Juris Doctorate from Western State College of Law in 1997 and served as an officer in the California Applicant's Attorneys Association.

As he stated in his professional blog: "I first became a Thomas, then a husband, then a father, then a lawyer. As with all things, it’s about getting better. This site is a journey along the way."

He was extremely successful in that journey, especially as a husband and father. He was not so focused on career success that he was too busy to build a close and individual relationship with each of his sons. He coached them in sports and encouraged them in each of their endeavors. He stood out as an example of encouragement and service to people in every walk of his life. He was always willing to lend an ear and give advice. If you knew him at all it is likely that he was an inspiration for you or at least a wonderful person to hang out with!


  • Memorial Service

    Friday, October 16, 2020


Joel Thomas

have a memory or condolence to add?

Drenda Wassner

October 23, 2020

My friend Joel was known by me to be a man who ultimately found answers for life and the law in God's Word. I will miss our conversations.
With Love,

Nicole Anthony

October 18, 2020

To Joel’s family,

I am so sincerely sorry for your loss. Our tight knit workers compensation community has lost a great fellow attorney and worthy opponent. I had many cases against Joel over the years and he always did his best for his clients and was a true professional. He was always kind and someone I looked forward to seeing at the Board. My prayers are with you all. May he rest in peace 🙏

Tong Phan

October 18, 2020

I am so saddened to hear of Joel's passing. Although I've only known Joel for 3 years, I will forever remember my hockeymate as a passionate and caring friend with a determination like no other.

I've played on several hockey teams as Joel's linemate where we shared so many great memories fighting for each other through good times and bad. His will to never give up will always be remembered.

One of his favorite things to do was to screen the goalie, redirect and tip in those goals. But what I'll remember the most is that slapshot at full speed from the right wing to score top shelf. That was definitely his thing.

Condolences to the family.
Rest in paradise my dear friend.

Photo with some of his hockey family.

Sergio Magallanes

October 17, 2020

I cannot begin to express how devastating and heart breaking it was to hear of Joel's passing. This is a tremendous loss to all of us at the Dimarco Araujo Montevideo family, and all of us who love Joel so much.

I had the privilege and honor to have worked with Joel for close to twenty years.

Although Joel was a Partner and Managing Workers Compensation Attorney at the firm.
I never looked at Joel and thought, "that's my boss," it never crossed my mind. Joel was so much more, he was a mentor, a friend, an educator, and on many occasions my life coach.

His door was always open for anything, and his counsel was invaluable.

As an Attorney, Joel served his clients with ziel and with the upmost diligence. There were so many cases that no other lawyer wanted to touch, but Joel saw the clients needs, not the difficulty or problems related to the case. He always focused on the need of the individual first.

Joel never ceased to amaze me, with every case we discussed, he always looked at every case with compassion, which to me, is the clearest testimony of his kind heart, morals, and judgement.

Joel leaves behind so many lessons and examples of how to live an honorable life. I could only pray and desire to be half the man he was.

It is hard to imagine life without Joel, but he does leave a big part of him in my heart, and I will strive to make him proud.

It was an honor and a great privilege to have had Joel in my life, and to have known such a wonderful man.

God bless you Shelly, Graham, Michael, Spencer, Dennis and the entire Thomas family. I am so tremendously sorry for your loss, for our loss...

John Bojorquez

October 17, 2020

Shelly and boys,
based on the great words expressed at Joel’s Celebration, I’m sorry I didn’t have an opportunity to spend more time with him. Joel was the first of the Thomas brothers I met while playing water polo for the CSULA club team. At that time, I remember thinking how fun he was of a teammate. Going to Hawaii and playing in the Rainbow tournament with your husband/dad, I will always cherish. And, although I didn’t think it would be the last time I would see him, at McGaugh just days before his passing, I am so thankful I was able to meet up with him albeit for a short chat.
You four are in my thoughts and prayers. May Joel continue to look over you as you continue your life journeys. I’m sure he will continue to be a proud husband and father.

Reina Archuleta

October 16, 2020

Thank you, Dennis, for sharing that picture. I had so much respect for Joel because of the way he carried himself. Always so professional. Always willing to impart knowledge. My deepest sympathy to his loved ones. You were blessed to have him and the memories of a life well lived will sustain you as you continue in your journeys.
Praying for God's strength.

Rosa Pankaj

October 16, 2020

Joel gave me wings to practice law in the field of workers compensation. Although I was new to practicing in this area, Joel had full faith in my abilities. We did laugh about some painful experiences I had to endure along the way of building my experience, but he had only words of encouragement for me. In due time, the success stories followed and he shared the happiness.
I look up to him as a mentor who was always willing to share his knowledge and experience, regardless of how busy he always was. He was professional and respectful, and I know that his peers gave him the same in return. He was an excellent boss and I trust that everyone will agree with me.
I will remember being part of the Saturday morning jogging sessions with him and a few others from the WC department, and also attending a few of his son Michael's hockey matches.
I have nothing but happy memories of Joel and still have a difficult time processing the news of his passing. I greatly regret not being able to personally attend the memorial due to the pandemic, but my thoughts and prayers are with Mrs. Thomas, Graham, Spencer and Michael, always.

Rosa M. Pankaj

Leonor C. Gonzales

October 15, 2020

Joel gave me my first opportunity in WC.
This was an extremely important opportunity in my career because P.I. had not been kind to me as a woman and minority. Where I wanted to be in the thick of things and litigate, I was relegated to defending depositions and responding to or propunding discovery.
Surprisingly with WC, I was able to retu rn to my purpose in becoming an attorney. Thats is, to be in the mist of things. Litigating, appearing before Judges to argue your clients case. Joel gave me that opportunity and I will be forever greatful.
Joel was my mentor as he was to many of us.
What I valued most about him was his quick smile, his quick wit and sense of humor.
What I appreciated about him is how he treated EVERYONE, no matter who you were, with the utmost respect.
Clearly, he was a strong family man who doted on his sons and wife. He was a very proud father proud of his sons and their accomplishments.
I have lost my WC Encyclopedia in Joel.
He was always like opening up a WC book and finding the answers. Now I'm having a bit of a problem finding answers in general.
My deepest condolences to his Wife, sons and family. Just know that he always had you first in mind and heart.
We will all miss you greatly Joel. 😇


October 14, 2020

I found this picture from 1975 when Joel was a Freshman and I was a second year Junior, if you know what I mean. My little brother.

Mario and Caty Seiglie

October 14, 2020

We met Joel, his lovely wife Shelly and their sons almost 20 years ago. He always impressed us as a very kind, gentle soul that loved his family very deeply and was always ready to lend a hand. He was very intelligent, a deep thinker and great speaker, and his messages at church were always unique and very interesting. He left us way too soon and we will miss him terribly, especially his constant smile and happy demeanor. Our prayers and thoughts are with Shelly, their sons and their extended families. ❤️ Mario and Caty Seiglie


The boys at Mikey’s hockey game


Michael’s adoption day!


Joel and Nikita


Spencer and Joel in New York


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