Gary E. Thomas, 60, passed away on November 27, 2019 at St. Joseph Medical Center in KCMO. He was born on February 28, 1959 in KCMO to Melvin Thomas and Helen Thomas.
He grew up in KCMO. He graduated from Manual High School. After high school he attended Lincoln University and UMKC, where he received a Bachelors in Theater Arts.
Gary was the middle child of Melvin and Helen Thomas. He had a love for life and people. He began his career at the Together Center Inc. as a Youth Director; he was there for over 36 years, overseeing the Summer Enrichment and After School Programs. There were many wonderful aspects to Gary’s life that made him an amazing man.
The center was Gary’s first love; he wanted to make sure that every child that attended the center was able to see that there was more in the world than the inner city. The kids were exposed to The Zoo, Museums, local & suburban parks, shopping centers, skating rinks, and area swimming pools. He wanted to ensure that each child had an amazing summer. Each summer the children would play, laugh, and learn. They learned skills that they could carry with them for the rest of their lives. Each summer program ended with an amazing talent show that Gary dreamt up and produced. He would be the MC, and some years he would even perform with the children. He gave hundreds of inner-city youth their first job at the center through the Joy/FEC Program.
During the school year, he was in charge of an after-school program at the center. The children could get help with their homework; learn how to cook, do arts & crafts, and some even learned how to sew. He taught dance, gymnastics, and gave piano & organ lessons.
He also had a great passion for his church community. Gary was a member and organist at First Christian Church of Kansas City. He was a very active board member at the church. He was also a member of The Kansas City Christmas Bureau. The Bureau donated hundreds of Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets each year.
Gary had a very active life, during most of the 80’s; he helped out with the dancers in the musicals at Worlds of Fun. He did the audio for many of the Smith Sister Dance Studio summer recitals. In his spare time, he worked with Kansas City’s singing group Jackie & Oneida, they spent many evenings working on their vocals at the Together Center.
Gary’s love of dance made its way to two local high schools. He was Assistant Band Director at Northeast High School in KCMO for over fifteen years, before becoming the Assistant Band Director at F. L. Schlagle High School in KCK. He was at Schlagle for over twenty years until his health begin to decline in 2013. Gary loved being a part of both schools. He oversaw the Dance and Flag teams.
He had a love for Broadway musicals, music, Stephanie Mills, professional & college football, baking, and his family. He had a larger than life personality and he made friends wherever he went. Gary will be truly missed by everyone whose life he impacted.
He was preceded into death by both parents, sister, Sharon Thomas sister, Helena, nephews, Rickey Brown Jr., Donald Elliot, Ronald Elliot.
He is survived by his brother, Rickey Brown Sr., sisters; Deborah Thomas, Regina Thomas and Candance Thomas, nephews: Arbanas Elliott Sr. (Laresa), Cornelius Brown, Michael Ragland (Diane), and Alphonso Lora. Niece; Tiffany Ragland (Marcarsha), great nephew; Darrius Patton and great niece Adrianna Patton.
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