Drive. Ambition. Passion.
George Thomas embodied these traits and more, yielding a successful career and fulfilling life with shining optimism anywhere he could.
While he kept his focus on the future during his life, friends, family, and listeners across America will hold his influence and memory in their hearts after he passed away at the age of 80 on April 13th, surrounded by friends and family.
In a tribute written by KTSU Music Director Shelton T. Nunn, Nunn described Thomas as the “kind of man who led by example. No task was too difficult because of his visionary spirit. Always the optimist, George found ways to make things happen due to the many relationships he developed throughout his life from all walks of life.”
“His ideas bore fruit and his passing leaves a void in the lives of all who either met or knew George Thomas personally or socially,” Nunn wrote. “His anecdotes on life, positive mental attitude, and quick wit made him a joy to be around and a friend to all, but it was his faith in God that kept him grounded in spite of his gregarious personality.”
Most famous for being the general manager of KTSU since 1995, he was also a Jazz enthusiast, trumpeter, and tennis lover, even recording a how-to CD on the fundamentals of the game.
“For many years, George deposited so many great things in the next generation – the up and coming musicians, the up and coming broadcasters, the up and coming young people who had a passion for tennis. He made a great contribution to our community as a whole and we will remember him for that,” Current KTSU GM Ernest Walker told The Defender.
Thomas became the General Manager of KTSU at a time when the station had limited resources and external funding was sporadic at best. Thomas’ first order of business as GM was to involve the station with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which not only gave the station a national presence but provided much-needed funding.
He later spearheaded the station into being public radio’s most listened-to station by African Americans in the country.
Thomas is one of the reasons why Texas Southern is such a historic school. KTSU, located on Texas Southern’s campus, often harbors industry pioneers that get overlooked by the general public.
Nevertheless, Thomas helped bring KTSU to the forefront of public radio, as well as provided opportunities to students along the way.
“He was a true legend in this community and touched a lot of lives,” said Houston Association of Black Journalists President Nakia Cooper. “Because of the opportunities he provided, I had the opportunity to serve as executive producer of the KTSU 90.9 FM student newscast when I was in college. That achievement still remains on my resume today. He gave so many Texas Southern University students a chance to be great.”
A viewing, honoring his life, will be held Wednesday, April 24, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church, 3015 N. MacGregor Way. A viewing will also be held Thursday, April 25, at 10 a.m. at Good Hope, and the funeral service is at 11 a.m. Thursday.
By Ryan Nickerson
Image Courtesy of KTSU