Paul Arthur Thomas, 65, of Winterville, GA passed away September 14, 2019. Paul was born May 3, 1954 in Elmwood Park, IL to Donald and Lucile (Halaska) Thomas who preceded him in death. Paul married Toni Lynne Woodward in 1988 and for 31 years gave all of his love, life and talents to his wife, sons, co-workers, students and industry professionals.
Paul is survived by his wife Toni of Winterville, GA and sons Avery Thomas, wife Karolina, of Winterville, GA and Stuart Thomas, wife Aimee, of Selby, North Yorkshire, UK. Paul is also survived by one sister, Roberta, husband Stan, of Grayslake, IL, and three brothers, Christopher, wife Jean, of Darien, IL, Bruce, wife Marguerite, of Chicago, IL, and Greg, wife Susan, of Orlando, FL, two nieces and two nephews.
Paul earned a B.S. degree in botany and a M.S. degree in plant and soil science from Southern Illinois University and a PhD in plant physiology from the Pennsylvania State University. He realized his dream of a career in academia in 1990 when he joined the University of Georgia faculty as both a professor and state extension specialist in floriculture. Paul retired from the university on September 1, 2019 after 29 years of service.
Over a long and distinguished career, Paul touched the lives and careers of countless students, faculty, staff and industry professionals across Georgia and around the nation. In 2017, Paul was the recipient of the prestigious Alex Laurie Award for Research and Education presented by the Society of American Florists. Paul was also recognized by the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences as the 2011 recipient of the D.W. Brooks Faculty Diversity Award for his many efforts to support the success of traditionally underrepresented minorities in the agricultural sciences. Paul’s commitment to floriculture did not end with his recent retirement. As a guest lecturer and ambassador for the American Floral Endowment, Paul had planned to continue his life’s work of teaching, coaching and mentoring the next generation of industry professionals well into his retirement. Paul was also active in the community serving as a Cub Scout and Boy Scout leader from 2001-2010.
To honor Paul’s career and commitment to the University of Georgia community, the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences has established the Paul Thomas Floriculture Scholarship Endowment for deserving students with a desire to pursue a career in floriculture. For details or to donate, please visit gail.uga.edu.
A public visitation will be held at Lord and Stephens Funeral Home, 4355 Lexington Rd, Athens, GA on Friday, September 27 from 6:00 until 8:00 PM. A memorial service is scheduled at 2:00 PM, Saturday, September 28, 2019 at Lord and Stephens Funeral Home. Friends and family are welcome.
Lord and Stephens Funeral Home, EAST, Athens, GA, is in charge of arrangements. www.lordandstephens.com