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1929 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
RICHARD A. THOMAS Richard A. "Dick" Thomas passed away suddenly May 8, 2018. He was born March 19, 1929, to Cyrus B. and Carolyn C. Thomas, of Takoma Park, Maryland. He had three siblings, brothers, Stanley and Frank, and a sister, Dorothy. In 1932, the family left Maryland for Florida where Dick attended Mirror Lake Junior High School and St. Petersburg High. Much of his childhood was spent on a small island in nearby Tampa Bay where he hunted, fished and swam, but unknown to most, also caddied at a local golf course, starting at age 10, inspiring a lifelong love of that game. At age 20, Dick moved to Chicago to join the Hilton Hotel Corporation at the largest hotel in the world at the time, the Stevens, renamed the Conrad Hilton a few years later. From that point forward, Dick's career reads like a textbook example of how to succeed in hotel sales and tourism management. As his knowledge increased, responsibilities were expanded and his productivity soared. Dick's initiative, doggedness and charm were not lost on Hilton senior executives, who gave him increasingly daunting posts within their Statler and Biltmore divisions. It was at this time that Dick married and began his family. Continued career success lead to an offer, unrefused, by Carling Dinkler for Dick to become director of sales at Dinkler's renowned Tutwiler property in Birmingham. Dick was summarily boosted to director of sales at Dinkler's flagship Plaza Hotel in Atlanta, where Dick also oversaw sales at all 35 hotels and motels in the Dinkler chain. It was here that he coined his trademark soft-spoken phrase, "Is there anything you needanything I can do for you?" Dick's stability, family orientation and respected professional accomplishments brought him to the attention of the leadership of a city undergoing transformation from vacation-only to a blend of leisure and convention orientations. New Orleans, America's brashest city, recruited one of America's most staid hospitality executives to manage that intimidating task. Within five years, Dick's stewardship of NOLA's convention sales operation brought him once again to the notice of another world-class destination seeking to increase its rank of sustainability within the rooms' reservation scheme. Las Vegas was, at that time, reaching out to the cream of hospitality sales gurus from across the nation to join with hotel and casino executives at already famous resorts aptly named Desert Inn, Caesars Palace, Tropicana, Dunes, Sands, Thunderbird, Frontier, Flamingo and Sahara. Over the next 28 years, Dick found his way into the executive suites of several of those iconic-named properties, settling in at the crown jewel Desert Inn Country Club for close to 20 of those years, and during Las Vegas' most astounding growth and development period. Dick and his wife, Karen, created a marketing management company named Kerat in 1995, and provided sales and convention-related services for the next 11 years at the Holiday Inn Boardwalk hotel and casino. Richard A. Thomas was stalwart in his devotionsto family, to profession, to colleagues and to philanthropic associations. He rose to become a SKAL International president in Las Vegas, Statewide Chairman of both the Alabama and Georgia JAYCEES, and a sustaining member in ASAE, MPI, PCMA, SITE, PATA, HSMA and JATA. He was loved and respected in each of his professional avocations. He was preceded in death by his parents, Cyrus B. and Carolyn C. Thomas; his sister, Dorothy Miller Tatman; and his brother, Stanley Thomas. He is survived by his loving partner and wife, of 30 years, Karen Bramwell-Thomas; daughters, Connie Thomas Newton, Kathy Thomas Clark (Charles) and Karen Lee Kaufman (Ken); brother, Frank Thomas (Diane); six grandchildren; numerous nieces and nephews; and many wonderful friends. Mass will be celebrated in Dick's honor at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 16, at the Las Vegas Country Club, 3000 Joe W Brown Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89109. A reception will follow.
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