David Lloyd Thomas, 81, Lawrence resident, formerly of Columbus, Ohio, died on Wednesday, July 2, 2014 at Hickory Pointe Nursing Home in Oskaloosa after two years of failing health.
David was born on October 10, 1932 in Kansas City, Missouri, the son of Otto and Mamie (Williams) Thomas. He graduated from Northeast High School. He enrolled in Kansas City Junior College for two years, where he earned an Associate of Science. In 1953 he graduated from the University of Kansas with a BS in mechanical engineering. He then attended U.S. Naval Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island, graduating in November 1953. David served in the Navy for three years, mostly on the destroyer USS Samuel N. Moore. On his return to civilian life he attended the University of Illinois, where he earned an MS in mechanical engineering in 1958.
It was at the University of Illinois that David met his wife, Betty Lou Batson. They were married on September 20, 1958, and she survives of the home after their 55 years of marriage. In 2011 they moved to Lawrence to be near family.
David had a happy and productive career as a mechanical engineer, first at Ottawa (KS) Steel from 1958 to 1961, and then until 2007 at Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio. He was a machine designer and developer of hydraulically and pneumatically powered components and systems for many different applications, his specialty being hydraulic pumps. His name appears on more than a dozen patents. His bent for all things mechanical came home as well, where he could fix literally anything. He often built items of original design out of wood, metal, and other materials for his family members and church. He was for many years a loyal member of the Mountview Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio, where he served lengthy terms as treasurer, trustee, and deacon. His membership in Lawrence was at First Baptist Church. David was a quiet man of enormous patience, precision, and compassion who will be missed greatly by his family.
David is survived by his wife, Betty, a daughter, Joy Laird (Paul), a granddaughter, Caitlin Laird, a sister, Erma Peterson (Dale), of Prairie Village, KS, and a cousin, Phyllis Horton of Evanston, IL.
Memorial Services will be held at 10:00 a.m. Thursday, July 31, 2014 at Warren-McElwain Mortuary in Lawrence. The family will greet friends from 6-7 p.m. Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at the mortuary.
The family suggests memorial funds in David’s name to support scholarships in mechanical engineering through the ASME Foundation (1828 L Street NW, Suite 810, Washington, DC 20036), and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary.
The family wishes to thank Hickory Pointe Nursing Home and Gentiva Hospice for their loving care of David. Online condolences may be sent to www.warrenmcelwain.com