Elden Dale Thomas, age 84, of Louisville, Ohio, was reunited with his loving wife, Janet, on Wednesday, August 31, 2022, surrounded by loving family members one day shy of his 85th birthday. He was born at home on the family farm on September 1, 1937, north of Louisville to parents William “Carter” and Sadie (Culler) Thomas as the youngest of four children. He truly lived the American Dream.
As a child, he was taught the value of hard work and commitment to family while working on the family farm. At age 11, he and his older brother started the Nimishillen Township Future Farmers 4H Club, known today as the Louisville Livestock Leaders 4H Club. He graduated from Louisville High School in 1955 and, while in high school, began dating Janet Leahy, the younger sister of his friend and future college roommate Mike Leahy. Their first date was a Louisville vs. West Branch football game, and Janet was an integral part of encouraging him to attend college making him the first member of his family to do so.
He graduated from Marietta College in 1959 where he was a letterman on the varsity men’s crew team and majored in mathematics after only taking 9th grade algebra as a senior in high school. His relentless dedication to his academics led him to describe that he studied so hard in the math building that he would “sweat blood” to get through his coursework.
In June 1961, Elden and Janet were married and settled in Louisville for the rest of their lives. Elden was very committed to the Louisville community and served for 14 years as a member of the Louisville City Council. As a Council member, he worked to improve zoning regulations, significantly reduced the city’s debt, and arranged for the purchase of both the Metzger family farm (now known as Metzger Park), and the Martig car dealership (which now serves as the City Services building on West Main Street). He was also a lifelong member of Paradise United Church of Christ.
In 1962, Elden began a 41-year career at Babcock and Wilcox and, later, McDermott Incorporated after they purchased B&W. While working full-time, he commuted to Kent State University taking evening classes to earn his Masters in Business Administration (MBA) in 1966. He passed up multiple promotion opportunities that would have advanced his career in order to avoid uprooting his family. He was an executive in both the Nuclear Products Division in Barberton and the Operations Research Department in Alliance, rising to the position of Vice President of the McDermott Technology Operations Research Department serving all McDermott and B&W divisions. In 1972, his innovative work in redesigning the construction and fabrication process for nuclear power plants earned him and his team the prestigious Franz Edelman Award for Management Science Achievement from the Operations Research Society of America (ORSA), now known as the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS). He later served as a judge for the Edelman competition. He always led with integrity and had a strong commitment both to the organization and to those who worked with him and for him over the course of his career.
More importantly than either civic or business success, Elden was an outstanding husband, father, grandfather and friend. Even though he spent many late nights in Council meetings, taking phone calls from constituents or traveling for work, he was an ever-present force in his family’s life and remained active in children’s and grandchildren’s lives whether it was coaching flag football, assisting with building a Pinewood Derby car or teaching them about woodworking or landscaping. He found great joy in following politics, the stock market, and sports – especially his beloved Louisville Leopards, Cleveland Indians, Cleveland Browns, Ohio State University Buckeyes and Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
He was a principled man with an outstanding moral compass and a strong faith in God who served as a role model to those around him in how to lead both a successful life in the world without forgetting who he was, where he came from and what he was put on earth to do.
He was preceded in death by his wife Janet, his parents William “Carter” and Sadie (Culler) Thomas, his in-laws Richard and Bonnie (Scott) Leahy, and his brothers, Richard and Robert Thomas and his sister Betty Krabill. He is survived by his son, Michael Thomas, DDS and his wife, Julie Thomas, DDS of Louisville, Ohio and their sons, Michael (Brittany) and Phillip; and his son, Andrew Thomas, M.D. and his wife, Lisa Wilkins Thomas of Columbus, Ohio and their children, Michael, Julia and Jacob.
The family extends heartfelt appreciation to Drs. Mark Hostetler, Jim Ryan and Ralph Augostini who all provided excellent care for him for many years and to the healthcare providers at Aultman Hospital and the OSU Wexner Medical Center who cared for him over the past few months. In addition, the family is especially grateful to Tim Adkins, Christi Eberling and their two daughters for their caring and support for Elden over the past few years. A private service will be held at Stier-Israel Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Paradise United Church of Christ's Bell Tower Project. Online condolences may be left for the family at www.stierisraelfuneralhome.com
Stier-Israel Funeral Home 330-875-1414