David Thomas died September 24 at Carillon Assisted Living in Durham of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was 83. David was a founding board member and former chair of the New Voices Foundation and a devoted advocate for children with significant disabilities and their families. He was for many years a well-respected and highly-effective executive in industry, holding senior sales and marketing positions at Esso, International Paper and Huyck, leading the International Trade Center at N.C. State University, and ultimately serving as president of Northern Telecom Japan. A native of New York, NY, David grew up on Long Island and joined the U.S. Army in 1947, serving as a broadcaster on the military's Far East Network in Hokkaido, Japan and Tokyo. After returning home, he tried his hand as a screenwriter in California before returning east to earn his BA and MBA at New York University. After retiring from Nortel, David served as Associate Dean for Corporate and Community Relations at the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, working with his good friend Donald Stedman, dean of the school. He and Dr. Stedman also worked together to launch and grow the New Voices Foundation, a non-profit organization with a mission to improve educational opportunities for children with severe communication and mobility disabilities. He also served as an advisor to United Way, the North Carolina Symphony
Foundation and Inroads NC, and as chair of the World Trade Center North Carolina and president of NC REAL Enterprises. David loved to share his knowledge with others and offered his assistance freely and without hope of reward. His colleagues remember his leadership and integrity. His friends remember his sense of humor, his love of music, singing and storytelling. His family remember his love, his kindness and his steadfast support. His straightforward, timely and friendly advice will be missed by all who knew him. He is survived by his wife Joyce of Raleigh, his son David B. Thomas, a marketing executive in San Francisco, daughter-in-law Jean Ferguson, his nephew Lloyd Snook and nieces Kathleen Maxted and Carol Weare, and his beloved grandson Conrad, who misses his Opa very much. A memorial service will be held 4:00 p.m. Saturday at Brown-Wynne at 1701 East Millbrook Rd. in Raleigh, with a visitation one hour prior. In lieu of flowers, the family requests a donation to the New Voices Foundation, PO Box 12343, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-2343 or via the website at www.NewVoicesNC.org.