Frank D. Thomas, 76, died on Nov. 22, 2020. He was well known in the community and the state as a choral director, singer, and teacher.
Frank was born in Dodge City, Kansas, on July 29, 1944, the eldest child of Frank G. Thomas and Rachel (Unruh) Thomas. He grew up in Henderson, Nebraska, where his father was a pastor. They were a singing family, and choral music became Frank's lifelong passion.
Frank met his wife, Jacqueline (Jackie), at Wichita State University, where both majored in Music Education. They married in 1967, and began teaching in Caney, Kansas. Frank returned to earn a Master's in Music at WSU and continued his education at UMKC.
In 1971, Frank was hired by Missouri Western State College (now MWSU) as Director of Choral Studies, a position he held for 38 years until his retirement. He also founded the St. Joseph Community Chorus in 1980 and directed it for many years. He continued to be active as a singer after retiring from conducting in 2015. Under his leadership, the group grew to over 90 members. The chorus and/or the Chamber Singers made several singing trips to Europe and toured in Missouri for the Missouri Arts Association. They made multiple appearances on invitation at meetings of Missouri state music associations.
Frank directed choirs at Westminster Presbyterian Church and Ashland Avenue United Methodist Church, and sang in the choir at First Presbyterian Church. He was the cantorial singer at Temple Adath Joseph for 45 years. He was a member of Westminster Presbyterian and then First Presbyterian churches. He was active in professional music and music education organizations and won many state and local awards for his work. His greatest joy was seeing his students become successful musicians and teachers. Many of his students now teach in Missouri and in the four-state area.
Though his life was music, he had other passions. He was a loving and active family man and father to his three children, James (Cara) Thomas, Rachel (Matt) Morgan, and Anne (Jay Erickson) Thomas; and doted on his grandchildren Lucas, Anna, Heidi, Çalvin, Reese, Ethan, Zoe, Calvin, Kayla, and Hannah. He also enjoyed biking (he rode across the state of Iowa in the annual RAGBRAI festival and to Henderson, Nebraska, with his son James). Other hobbies were vegetable gardening (he gave lots of produce to the InterServ Calvin Center and shared it at church) and camping and traveling with his family.
He is survived by his wife of 53 years, three children, and 10 grandchildren.
There will be a memorial service at a later date when it is safe to sing!
Memorials may be sent to the St. Joseph Community Chorus, InterServ, or The National Parkinson's Foundation.
Online guest book and obituary at www.meierhoffer.com. As published in the St. Joseph News-Press.