Zachary Cecil Kempner Thomas was born on March 2, 1969 in New York City to Lyda Ann Quinn Thomas and Jerry Redmond Thomas. He is the grandson of Lyda Kempner and Arthur W. Quinn. Only 41 years old, he died peacefully in his sleep in his home in Asheville, North Carolina on October 19, 2010. As a youth, Zach’s family removed to his family’s home in Galveston, Texas where he attended Travis Academy, Texas Military Institute in San Antonio and graduated from Galveston’s O’Connell High School. He received his BA in History from Schreiner University, Kerrville, Texas in May 1994. While attending Schreiner, he studied in Spain and Mexico, acquiring a love for the language. His interest in psychology led him to pursue graduate studies at the University of Texas and then to complete his Master’s Degree in Developmental Psychology at Columbia University in New York City in May 2001.
Life presented many challenges to Zachary, but he never lost his sense of humor or his concern for others. He was not as concerned with what he could get out of life as with what he could bring to life. He was restless in pursuit of meaningful experiences. He loved his family and friends and his animals, especially Carter and other retrievers he rescued and gave safe haven to. A free spirit, he was at home windsurfing, camping, photographing nature, dabbling at art and pursuing his chosen career of counseling at -risk youth with disabilities.
Since moving to Asheville, North Carolina several years ago, Zachary volunteered with local animal shelters, the Smokey Mountain National Forest, where he loved to hike, and Habitat for Humanity, which recently honored him for his dedicated service.
Besides his parents, Zachary is survived by his brothers, Taylor McCarthy Thomas and Ian Quinn Redmond Thomas and wife Zuhra and his sister Eliza Kempner Thomas Quigley, her husband Danny and their children, Cara, Quinn, and Kadin, his step-mother Karen N. Thomas and step-brother Justin Nelson, aunt and uncle Penny and Mike Guttersen of Eaton, Colorado, and their sons Michael, Art, Shawn and his wife Connie. He is also survived by his former wife and loyal friend, Susan Haga of Austin, Texas and her son Reuben.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to the Galveston Children’s Center Family Crisis Center, P.O Box 3002, 77553, The Galveston Island Humane Society, 5301 Ave S, 77551 or the charity of your choice.
A memorial celebration of Zachary’s life will be held at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, October 27, 2010 at Temple B’Nai Israel, 3006 Ave. O, Galveston, Texas, 77550, with Rabbi James Kessler officiating.