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Posted on March 1, 2017 | 3:27 p.m.

John W. Thomas, Ph.D., of Santa Maria, 1930-2017

Source: Dudley-Hoffman Mortuary

John William Thomas
John William Thomas

John William Thomas, professor emeritus of microbiology, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, died at his Santa Maria home, Feb. 15, 2017, at age 86.

John was born in San Diego, CA on July 31, 1930, to John William and Florence Rairdon Thomas. He married Annette Early in Holyoke, MA in July 1958. They were residents of California their entire 58 1/2 years of marriage, and she survives.

In addition to his wife, John leaves a son, John, of San Francisco; a daughter, Anne, of Alexandria, VA; son-in-law, Cristian; and younger brother, Philip, of Aptos. He was preceded in death by his parents and sister, Florence.

As his father was a member of the U.S. Navy, John attended elementary schools in several U.S. seaport communities, as well as in Panama. He graduated from Manual Arts High School in 1949. He then began his scientific studies at Los Angeles City College.

He interrupted his studies in December 1950, when he joined the U.S. Navy during the Korean War, serving in the U.S. Navy Hospital Corps. He was honorably discharged in September 1954.

He continued his studies at California State University, Los Angeles, and graduated with a B.S. in microbiology in 1957.

While studying for his credential in Public Health Microbiology, he interned at the Los Angeles County Public Health Department, where he worked upon receiving his credential.

While working at the Public Health Lab, John earned his CA General Secondary Teaching Credential, and began teaching science at Duarte High School in 1960.

In 1961 John received a National Science Foundation Grant to study radiation biology at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. John and Annette enjoyed spending the summer in Maine before John returned to teaching at Duarte.

In 1962 John received a grant to study at University of Southern California graduate school. He received his Ph.D. in bacteriology from USC in June 1968, and soon after joined the Biological Sciences Department at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo as a professor.

During the summers of 1974 and 1975, John was the recipient of a NASA and American Society of Engineering Education Summer Faculty Fellowship to work on the Mars Colonization Project at Ames Research Base in Sunnyvale, which he greatly enjoyed.

He retired from Cal Poly in 1992 after 24 years of teaching.

In 2001 John and Annette moved to Santa Maria where they were active in the YMCA for several years. One of John’s greatest pleasures and hobbies was designing, tending to and working in his garden.

John was a long-time member of the American Society for Microbiology, the Sigma Xi Research Society, and the Metropolitan Opera Guild.

Cremation has taken place, and a private memorial service will take place at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in honor of Dr. John W. Thomas, Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences, 1968-1992, be made to:

Robert E. Kennedy Library, Biological Sciences Division, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA 93407-0605.

To leave a condolence for the family visit

Arrangements by Dudley-Hoffman Mortuary.







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