Bruce Lorrey Thomas, 88, a columnist for the Warren Tribune Chronicle, died Oct. 9, 2018, of natural causes at his home at Shepherd of the Valley in Howland.
He was born in Boston, Mass., on April 4, 1930, the son of the late Louise Lorrey Thomas and Frank Bryan Thomas. He graduated from Williston Academy in Northampton, Mass., in 1949. He received his B.A. from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1953 and his Master’s in Social Work from the University of Connecticut in 1957. He served as a Sergeant in the United States Army during the Korean conflict stationed in the Panama Canal Zone, from 1953 to 1955.
Bruce delighted in learning, especially about people’s lives, some of whom he profiled in his popular column. He discovered his talent for journalism in retirement and was ever on the look-out for a good story, which he found in parking lots, at church and outings in the community. He conducted his last interview days before his passing with the help of his wife of 57 years, Sally, who marveled at watching him work: “He knew how to ask the question, and he always had questions.”
He began his career as a social worker in Pittsburgh, Pa., at Family and Children’s Service and the Veteran’s Neuropsychiatric Hospital and later served as executive director of the Western Pennsylvania Multiple Sclerosis Society. He moved with his young family to Washington, Pa., in 1967 to serve as Executive Director of the United Way. He was a charter member of the National Association of Social Workers and served on the boards of many social welfare and community service organizations, both in Washington County, Pa., and Trumbull County, Ohio. He was a member of Rotary International and the Pittsburgh Council for International Visitors.
Bruce was an avid reader of history and student of geology and, in retirement, volunteered in the Paleobotany Department of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, where he educated visitors about fossils and was named Volunteer of the Year. He was a docent at the Butler Institute of American of Art and a member of the Sutliff Museum, where his wife served as Curator. He loved gardening, spending time with his family and feeding the horses at his son’s farm in Johnston, Ohio.
He is survived by his wife, Sara Alice “Sally” Folger Thomas; his son, Richard Folger (Michelle) Thomas of Johnston, Ohio; his daughter Alice Thomas (Richard) Cervantes of Philadelphia, Pa.; grandchildren Alex, 29, of Howland and Marco, 9, Philadelphia; and step-grandchildren Brett Shipley, Keith Shipley and Courtney Collins.
A celebration of his life will be held at the First Presbyterian Church in Warren on Saturday, Nov. 3, at 11 a.m., where the family will receive visitors at 10 a.m.
In lieu of flowers his family suggests contributions be made in his memory to the Shepherd of The Valley, in Howland, Ohio or the First Presbyterian Church of Warren.
Arrangements are entrusted to McFarland-Barbee Family Funeral Home, 271 N. Park Ave., Warren, Ohio 44481, 330-393-9621. Please visit www.mcfarlandbarbeecares.com to view this obituary and send condolences.
First Presbyterian Church
256 Mahoning Ave, Warren OH 44481
Shepherd of the Valley Foundation
4100 North River Rd., NE, Warren OH 44484