George Edward Thomas, 81, Carroll schools superintendent

February 15, 1996|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,SUN STAFF

George Edward Thomas, former Carroll County superintendent of schools, died Tuesday at Carroll County General Hospital after a brief illness. He was 81.

Dr. Thomas spent his career in Carroll County, starting in 1934 as a teacher at the now-closed Pleasant Valley Elementary School. He taught at five schools of all educational levels and was principal of four elementary and junior high schools.

"He was a gentleman and a scholar in the truest sense," said Brian Lockard, the current superintendent. "He was my principal when I was in third grade."

In 1965, Dr. Thomas became administrative assistant to the superintendent, in which he was responsible for selecting appropriate federal education programs for the county. A year later, he was appointed superintendent, a position he was to hold for 10 years.

"He was one of the hardest-working superintendents I have had the opportunity to work with," said state Treasurer Richard N. Dixon, who was school board president during Dr. Thomas' tenure as superintendent.

Mr. Dixon, remembering the educator at school board meetings with an ever-present pipe nearby, said, "He was the man who introduced me to good cigars, as opposed to the kind you buy in the drugstore."

While Dr. Thomas was superintendent, Carroll County's school

enrollment increased by 50 percent and the operating budget nearly tripled. Nine new county schools were completed and two more were approved.

In addition, a countywide kindergarten program was implemented in 1970 and the system's special education program received state and national recognition, becoming a model for programs nationwide for students with disabilities.

Public involvement was also important to Dr. Thomas, who started the practice of presenting the school budget to the public before sending it to the county commissioners for adoption. He also used countywide committees to help determine school curricula.

Dr. Thomas left the Carroll County educational system twice: From 1941 to 1945, he served in the Army, seeing action as a combat solder in Europe, Tunisia and Italy. From 1947 to 1948, he took a leave of absence to earn his master's degree.

A native of Frostburg, Dr. Thomas was educated in the Allegany County public school system. He received his teaching degree from then-Frostburg State Teachers' College in 1934. His other degrees -- a bachelor of science in 1946, a master's degree in education in 1948 and a doctorate in 1970 -- were all earned at the University of Maryland.

Memorial services are scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday at the Westminster United Methodist Church, 162 E. Main St.

Survivors include his wife of 51 years, the former Charlotte Fogle; a daughter, Cherie I. Misas of Hummelstown, Pa.; a son, George Edward "Eddie" Thomas Jr. of Westminster; three siblings; and four granddaughters and two grandsons.

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