OBITUARY

John Franklin Thomas

September 5, 1944April 4, 2021

John F. Thomas, 76, was called home to his heavenly Father on Easter Day, April 4, after a 19-month battle with pancreatic cancer. He was born in Boston and raised in Youngstown, Ohio, the son of Dr. John H. Thomas and Flora Thomas. He attended Syracuse University where he earned a BA and then an MBA in marketing and finance. He was also a devoted member and lifelong supporter of the Psi Upsilon fraternity.

At Syracuse he met his wife, then Barbara St. Clair, to whom he was married 48 years and fathered two children, Molly and Brenner. Their loving partnership took them from Syracuse to Florida, where he began his long tenure at Paine Webber/UBS in Palm Beach. During his more than three decades there, Thomas was given every promotion available to an investment executive, achieving the title of Senior Vice President, Investments in 1987. In 1992, he was named to PaineWebber’s Focus List Committee, an internal advisory group that consisted of thirteen employees of the firm. Thomas was recognized for his hard work as a trusted and practiced professional and was routinely named over the years to the firm’s Chairman Council, which recognizes top performers nationally.

In addition to his professional duties and successes, Thomas was devoted to his community and its non-profits and institutions. He was an advisor to the Kirkwood Fund, an endowed fund of the Community Foundation of Palm Beach and Martin Counties. For several years, he served as Chairman of the Board of The Benjamin School as well as serving on its board in many other capacities. He was a member of the board for the Law Enforcement Assistant Foundation; was a founding member of the board of the Gordie Foundation,an organization that promotes alcohol awareness at college campuses; and a member of the Philanthropic Advisory Council at The Place of Hope, a faith-based child welfare and foster organization.

A man of deep faith, Thomas gave his time and energy to the churches he attended over the years. He was an elder and chairman of many committees and initiatives of The First Presbyterian Church of North Palm Beach. He similarly served multiple leadership roles at The Royal Poinciana Chapel of Palm Beach where he and his wife, Barbara, have been members for the past several years. During that time, he proudly served as Vice President of the Board of Directors, chaired the Stewardship and Development Committee, chaired the Chapel Investment Committee and the Now & Tomorrow capital campaign, and was a former Treasurer for the chapel.

Behind his singular accomplishments was a man known for this indefatigable work ethic, kindness to others, devotion to his wife and children, infectious optimism, goofy sense of humor and commitment to God, country and community. His family called him “the mayor”: he could befriend anyone anywhere and was on a first name basis with the staff at the local post office, the young man that bagged his groceries at Publix, and the nurses that lovingly tended to him in his last days. In his world view, everyone deserved the dignity of being known.

He is survived by his wife, Barbara Thomas; their daughter Molly Sealy and her husband Michael; their grandchildren, Lilly, Georgia and Peter; their son, Brenner Thomas; his sister Karen Cohn and her husband David.

A memorial service will be held on Tuesday, April 13 at 2 pm at The Royal Poinciana Chapel at 60 Cocoanut Row in Palm Beach. In light of public health concerns, the service will also be livestreamed. Those wishing to watch the memorial remotely can visit royalpoincianachapel.org, scroll down the homepage and click on “View Livestreams” at the appointed time.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in his name to The Royal Poinciana Chapel, 60 Cocoanut Row, Palm Beach, Florida, 33480; Trustbridge Hospice Foundation, 5300 East Avenue, West Palm Beach, Florida, 33407; or Place of Hope, 9078 Isaiah Lane, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, 33418.

Services

  • Memorial Service

    Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Memories

John Franklin Thomas

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John Rodgers

April 13, 2021

Barbara, Molly, Brenner, and your entire family,

On behalf of the Cross family, I extend our heartfelt sadness and condolences for the passing of John. As a friend, mentor and neighbor, John supported our family in more ways than I can list. He was the undisputed Mayor of Portage Landing North, always a thoughtful leader, lending a helping hand for any project, big or small. I've never seen someone who found more than 24 hours in a day to tend to his flock--but John sure did. More deeply, he and Barbara have been dear friends to my mother, Mary Kay Cross, always looking out for her after her husband Jim Cross passed away. Their unwavering love and dedication have been, without exaggeration, lifesaving.

John's wisdom and caring energy will be forever an inspiration to me. He taught me many things--from complex financials to the pitfalls of rusty metal work in a salty Florida climate--and I consider myself blessed to have been his friend and neighbor.

John Rodgers

Gayle Landen

April 13, 2021

I will miss John and his wise advice. More times than I can count, John has come to my assistance over the last 21 years when I have had both historical and philanthropic questions about the original formation of the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Knight's Hospitaller Commandery of the Palm Beaches and the Eastern Priory. In fact, John was the only remaining Board member who had signed the original Eastern Priory bank signatory cards. No matter how busy John was, he always took time to explain the details to me so that decisions could be made based on relevant facts and historical perspectives. My life was far better knowing John. He will be missed.

John Kiburz

April 12, 2021

I had the privilege of meeting John thru business about 10 years ago and was immediately struck by his warmth, sincerity, and genuine interest in others. While a most accomplished professional in his own right, he was always praising others around him, myself included. The Christmas season often brought him to Dallas for family, which meant his annual visit to our office, complete with thoughtful, generous gifts and notes for each staff member. He was on everyone's short list of our "favorite clients" and further, my own short list of "finest people I've ever met". My colleagues were in complete agreement with my assessment when John left our office: "they don't make people like this anymore".... I'm very grateful to have enjoyed John's friendship and inspiring example of a life so well lived, I only wish our paths had crossed sooner.

Jay & Mona Owen

April 12, 2021

Barbara,
Deepest sympathy to you and the family. I will miss John’s advice and council.
Jay & Mona

Toni & Joe Mastrullo

April 12, 2021

Our thoughts and prayers are with you all. We will attend via live streaming.
Toni & Joe

Joy Miltenberger

April 12, 2021

So sorry to hear about the loss of such a dear, sweet and gracious man. He was always lovely to everyone he met and always greeted you with a smile. He was a devoted friend to Place of Hope and a loyal supporter. He will be dearly missed. Rest In Peace with the Lord dear John.

Mickey Nocera

April 12, 2021

John Thomas was a life of generosity of his time, talent and treasure. He always showered everyone he met with kindness and encouragement. We were all better by knowing John Thomas. His legacy with the Place of Hope Children, will live on forever. John left his love in all who knew him. God rest your your soul my friend, You will be missed.

Michael Lanahan

April 11, 2021

John and I were fraternity brothers at college and kept up over the ensuing 50+ years. He defines the meaning of a “good man” and was a great role model and mentor for me. John was forever committed to his passions including his wife Barbara, family, faith and community. He will be missed by all who knew him. Rest in peace John. Mike

Jim Bertles

April 10, 2021

Barbara--

I was so saddened to hear of John's death. What a positive, patient, thoughtful man. I so enjoyed our years working together, kidding him about the length and detail of his reports and emails, but always complimenting and thanking him for the very thorough and helpful work he did for Helen and her boys. And the way he tackled his cancer--in the same way he lived his life, I'm sure, with a positive and prayerful attitude. I am sorry he is not here in person, but always in thought and spirit.

Jim Bertles

Chuck Hardwick

April 8, 2021

John’s smile, enthusiasm and energy have been missed this year. He was an inspiration at church, doing the Lord’s work at charities and advising folks on financial issues.
His love of Barbara and their children was evident. He was a model of putting Christ’s teachings into every day life. I will always remember when he stood by me at another church that didn’t allow full rights based on sexual orientation and both of our families transferred to the Chapel. God Bless you John.
Chuck Hardwick

FROM THE FAMILY