George William Thoma, Jr. passed away on August 8, 2009 in Galveston, Texas.
Born in Easton, Pennsylvania, on January 6, 1921, he was educated in the Easton public school system. He attended Lafayette College, also in Easton, where he was elected into the Phi Beta Kappa honorary society and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. degree in 1938.
He subsequently attended the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia and graduated with a M.D. degree in 1945. He immediately entered the U. S. Navy Medical Corps as a Lieutenant (j.g.) and was stationed in turn at the U.S. Naval Hospital, Philadelphia, the U.S.S. Rolette in the South Pacific, and the U.S. Marine Corps Base in San Diego, CA. While serving as medical officer aboard the U.S.S. Rolette, the ship was part of the naval task force which conducted the first air and underwater atomic bomb tests against captured enemy naval vessels at Bikini Atoll
Upon release from active duty, he pursued a residency in pathology at Allentown (PA) General Hospital and later an American Cancer Society Fellowship in exfoliative cytology at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia.
During the Korean war, he was recalled to active duty and was stationed at the U.S.Naval Hospital in Portsmouth, Virginia. He became certified by the American Board of Pathology in anatomical and clinical, and later forensic pathology.
After release from active duty, he took a position with the State of Virginia as assistant Chief Medical Examiner for the State. He was also an associate professor of pathology at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond.
In 1955 he left Virginia to become Chief of Laboratories and Pathologist to Saint Mary’s Infirmary in Galveston, Texas. In 1961 the M. D. Anderson Hospital in the Texas Medical Center offered him a position as staff pathologist with a concurrent appointment as Professor of General Pathology in the University of Texas Dental Branch.
In 1967, when the Dental Branch embarked upon an entirely new and innovative self-paced teaching program, he went full-time in the dental school to devote his energies and ideas about teaching to this endeavor. Always a critic of our educational processes, this was an ideal chance to test some of his ideas. While at the dental school, he enlarged and expanded the diagnostic biopsy service, expanded the clinical diagnostic service, and established the first approved residency training program in Oral Pathology in Texas. He was the first pathologist to occupy the combined departments of general and oral pathology as chairman. Two of his residents subsequently became department chairman at the Dental Branch.
He authored twenty-four scientific publications and was thesis chairman of pathology for many graduate dentists working for their Masters Degree in the dental specialties.
After retirement in 1983, he moved to Galveston and taught weekly seminars in pathology at UTMB for the residents in oral and maxillofacial surgery until his 80th birthday. He was a clinical professor of surgery at UTMB.
He was a member of the American Medical Association, the M.D. Anderson Associates, Phi Beta Kappa Alumni and founding member of the Bombay Bicycle Club of Galveston.
He is survived by his adored wife of 65 years, Jean Shanahan Thoma; a son, John Thoma, of Galveston married to Jennell Coy Thoma for 42 years; a daughter, Ann Cook, of Galveston; four grandchildren, Dawn Thoma Almanza, Eve Thoma, Travis Cook and Hollis Cook; and two great-grandchildren, Austin Almanza and Mitchell Almanza.