Dec. 29, 1924 - Dec. 1, 2012
ELKHART — George L. Thomas, 87, of Elkhart, died Saturday morning, Dec. 1, 2012, of natural causes at Memorial Hospital surrounded by his family.
The Michigan City native was born Dec. 29, 1924, to Victoria (Borane) Balady and George Thomas in Beirut, Lebanon. When Thomas’s father died in 1924, Victoria later married Morris “Mose” Balady.
Thomas attended Michigan City Elston High School, where he was a standout athlete and was later inducted to the high school’s Hall of Fame for his achievements. He left to serve in World War II prior to graduation. Thomas served as a B-17 bombardier with the 8th Air Corps and became a 2nd lieutenant in the 306th Bombardier Group from 1943 to 1946. When his plane was shot down, he bailed out and thus became a member of the Caterpillar Club.
Thomas was a PGA golf professional for 47 years, including 28 years at the Elcona Country Club. In 1994, Thomas was inducted as a PGA Master Professional.
In 1988, George was named head golf coach at the University of Notre Dame and remained so for 13 seasons. While at Notre Dame, George coached the university to three Midwestern Collegiate Conference championships and three Big East titles while earning conference coach-of-the-year honors in three separate seasons.
Thomas was named Indiana PGA Player of the Year three times and served as the president of the Indiana PGA for two years. He also has won a record seven Indiana Seniors titles.
Thomas was selected by the Indiana Professional Golfers Association as section teacher of the year in 1990. He was named Midwestern Collegiate Conference Coach of the Year and Big East Coach of the Year. A three-time U.S. Section Seniors champion, Thomas qualified for several PGA Championships and two U.S. Opens. Thomas received honorary membership into the Notre Dame National Monogram.
Thomas’s favorite title was one of loving father and grandfather. He loved to teach and golf with his grandchildren and even established a golf tournament just for them.
George is survived by his wife, Barbara A. (Smith) Thomas; children George Thomas, Scott (Ann Marie) Thomas, David (Theresa) Thomas, Joe (Cindy) Thomas and Theresa (Ken) Fry; and grandchildren George, Peter, Beatrice, Madeleine and Samuel Thomas, Catherine, Elizabeth, Andrew, Lucy and Jack Thomas, David, Michael, Caroline, Matthew, Melissa, Rachel, Grace, Theresa and Angela Thomas, Morgan, Joseph, Hannah and Luke Thomas, Victoria Pekarek, Cecilia Pekarek, Kate Fry and Sarah Fry.
Visitation for George will be from 3 to 6 p.m. today, Dec. 3, 2012, at Stemm-Lawson-Peterson Funeral Home, Elkhart. A private family ceremony will be at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Burial will follow in Cedar Grove Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to The Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation to find a cure for Niemann-Pick Type C: www.parseghian.org. Online condolences may be sent at www.stemmlawsonpeterson.com.