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Dr. Robert S. Thomas, PhD, 84 of Franklin, formerly of Columbus, passed away Friday, November 15, 2013 at Johnson Memorial Hospital in Franklin. He was born August 8, 1929 in Cincinnati, Ohio to Robert Laymon Thomas and Florence (Karr) Thomas Schuck.
He touched many lives over his long life and successful careers. He was born in the depression and grew up with a single mom who struggled to make ends meet. He spent his early years bouncing from home to home until he settled down in Indianapolis where he attended grade school at Saint Catherine's and then Arsenal Tech H.S. His somewhat notorious reputation as a brilliant non-conformist took form in high school as he skipped many classes in favor of reading at the public library and playing basketball at the YMCA. The rewards of his atypical study habits were a 1.5 GPA and the highest score on all three standardized tests out of a graduating class of over 1,000. He enlisted in the Army where he excelled immediately and was posted in Hawaii. He applied and was accepted into West Point Prep school and again scored top in his class. With the help of the GI Bill, he chose to attend the University of Chicago to benefit from and debate with Nobel Lauriat professors such as Enrico Fermi (tennis partner), Harold Urey, and Milton Fridman. He got his BA and went on to work for Prudential in New York for a short period. He quickly returned to Chicago to study Biophysics, which lead him to California to work on the manned space flight program with Lockheed and many nights at the hot springs of Esalen Institute playing chess with Fritz Pearls. After many successful years in California he moved on to Minnesota, where he continued to work for Lockheed as a consultant at the Mayo Clinic. He then switched careers and studied Neuropsychology at the University of Minnesota. After finishing his PhD he finally settled down and married Susan Baggarly. He continued work at the University while raising three boys and maintaining a farm in Wisconsin. He worked as a Neuropsychologist, helping people recover from traumatic brain injury in Minneapolis, Indianapolis, West Virginia, and finally back to Indiana where he worked until his retirement from Columbus Regional Hospital. He spent his retirement playing bridge, tennis and traveling to see his sons and grandchildren. He was an amazing father, intellectual, and loving person. He will be missed greatly and forever remembered.
Survivors include his three sons, Taran C. Thomas (Cindy) of Berkeley, Calif., Morgan L. Thomas (Kathy) of Franklin, and Devin T. Thomas of Boston, Mass., five grandchildren, Willamina Thomas, Arthur Thomas, Oscar Thomas, Makenna Thomas, and Aria Thomas.
He was preceded in death by his parents and a sister, Mary Kay Schuck.
A gathering will take place at 667 Graham St., Franklin, on Tuesday November 19, 2013 from 4 to 7 p.m.
Memorial contributions may be made to Columbus Regional Hospital, 2400 East 17th St., Columbus, Indiana 47201.
Swartz Family Community Mortuary And Memorial Center in Franklin is handling the arrangements. Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.swartzmortuary.com. Information 317-738-0202.
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