Dr. Howard Edward Thomas, 81, husband of the late Penelope Janet Hitchcock "Penny" Thomas, passed away on March 17, 2023, at Lexington Medical Center in Lexington, South Carolina.
Howard was born on August 19, 1941 in Cardiff, Wales to William Alfred "Bill" Thomas and Edith Winifred Crowther "Win" Thomas. Howard earned undergraduate and doctoral degrees from the University of Bristol in Chemistry. After marrying in 1968, Howard and Penny moved to the United States for two short years. Those two years turned into a wonderful life in the States. Howard taught at Georgia Tech, Furman University, and then at Erskine College for forty-five years for a total of fifty years of teaching.
Dr. Thomas was a legendary professor dedicating so much time to students as they studied chemistry, advising them on classes to take, and writing countless letters of recommendation to help them in their pursuits for life after college. Dr. Thomas worked tirelessly to see the completion of the Daniel-Moultrie Science Center on Erskine's campus during his many years chairing the Chemistry Department. He was appointed the Dr. and Mrs. James Rogers Young Professor of Chemistry in 2006. In 2015, he received the Excellence in Teaching Award from the South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities. He served on many committees, including as faculty chair and also clerk of session at his church. Dr. T. was known for his incredible patience and concern for students, his dry, British humor, love of Welsh rugby, and the way he pronounced al-u-min-ium.
Howard and Penny were married for 50 years and had two children, Megan Harriet Thomas and Emma Christine Thomas Dean. Megan passed away as an infant. Howard is survived by Emma and his son-in-law Gavin of Columbia, his brother Jeffery Thomas of Milton Keynes, England, four beloved grandchildren: Miles Thomas Dean, William Howard "Wills" Dean, Jonathan James Dean, and Megan Harriet Dean, and many wonderful nieces and nephews.
Upon retirement, Howard moved to Columbia and went on many wonderful adventures with his grandchildren where his legendary patience and caring nature continued to be on full display. He continued his search for a good hamburger and even ventured to Disney World with his adoring grandkids.
Whether you called him Dr. T. like his thousands of students, Kiddo like his brother, Howard (or even Howie to a few) like his friends, Daddy, or Grandpa, you always knew when you called, he would answer. Howard had an incredibly big-heart desiring to do the right thing and to help others. His was a life well lived, and well loved.
The family will receive friends from 2:00PM to 3:30PM on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, at the Honea Path Presbyterian Church fellowship hall. Funeral services will begin at 4:00PM on Wednesday in the church sanctuary with Rev. Deborah Broadwell officiating. Burial will follow in the Greenville Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Donalds, SC.
Memorial contributions, in memory of Dr. Thomas may be sent to The Howard and Penny Thomas Scholarship, Erskine Advancement Office, PO Box 338, Due West, SC 29639.
A message of condolence may be sent to the family by visiting www.harrisfuneral.com
Harris Funeral Home & Cremation Services of Abbeville is assisting the Thomas family.
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