Kevin Thomas, 1956-1996 Fallen comrade: Even as his body failed him, his voice grew stronger.

March 21, 1996

SOMETIMES, stories of courage are very close to home. Such was the case with Kevin Thomas, who died yesterday at age 39 after a lengthy illness. Kevin had worked at the Baltimore Sun for the past dozen years. Most of that time, he was a reporter on The Evening Sun, covering business, schools and suburban news. Three years ago, The Sun made him its first editorial writer based exclusively in Howard County. He became, in a sense, our institutional voice in that vibrant suburb.

Not long after he became an editorialist, his health worsened. His kidneys failed, requiring nightly dialysis. His vision became blurred, keeping him from driving. His daily editorial deadline was but one more challenge in a regimen of scheduled medicine times around the clock. Folks close to him said the editorial position was a blessing because it allowed him to do a job he loved when his maladies would have closed other avenues in journalism.

That was one of the ironies of Kevin's final years. As various organs broke down, his voice grew stronger. His commentaries about Howard elicited much comment on how to accommodate growth that was changing the face of a once-verdant landscape, on remedying racial disparities in the schools, on the middle-aging of Jim Rouse's "New Age" city of Columbia. Some readers occasionally mistook for anger what was truly the writer's heartfelt devotion for his adopted county, where he lived with his wife, Brenda, and children Justin and Chelsea.

In Kevin's life, editorials had their rightful priority. He was, first and foremost, a husband and father. He was every resident in suburbia and beyond, cheering for their kids in weekend games. He was every Baby Boomer trying to navigate a public school system that must deal with issues very different from when he was growing up in suburban Washington. He was every Howard countian worrying if his paradise found would remain so.

His family, friends and colleagues will greatly miss Kevin Thomas. Ultimately, that is the most vital measure of a person's contribution in life especially in one cut so short as his.

Pub Date: 3/21/96

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