Thursday, August 12, 2010

Jim Thomas 1946 -2010

James (Jim) Joseph Thomas

March 26, 1946 – August 6, 2010

Jim passed away quite suddenly at Kadlec Medical Center in Richland, WA on August 6, 2010, due to complications from a brain tumor. Jim was a man of many talents and interests and will be missed by many people whose lives he touched.

Jim was born in Spokane, WA to Joe and Floretta Thomas. He attended school in Spokane and graduated from Shadel Park High School in 1964. After high school, he continued his education at Eastern Washington University where he majored in mathematics and developed an interest in computer science. It was there that he met Berta, who became his life-long companion.

He received his master’s degree from Washington State University in Computer Science. Following that, Jim worked for General Motors at the Warren, Michigan Technical Research Facility where he began a career in Computer Graphics and Visual Analytics. After 5 years at GM, he and his family, which by then, consisted of his wife, Berta, and their two daughters, moved to Richland, WA. This is where he began a long and rewarding career at Battelle, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory where he was a Laboratory Fellow. He retired from this full-time position in 2009. Early in his career at PNNL, he also served as an adjunct professor at the Joint Center for Graduate Study which later became the WSU branch campus. He was also active in several professional societies, where his involvement led him to meet and work with many ‘greats’ within the computer graphics field.

Jim developed an international reputation as a computer graphics expert, providing the foundation for him to become a founder in the field of ‘Visual Analytics’. Before his retirement, he received the distinguished Christopher Columbus award for top science and impact in 2009 contributing to homeland security presented by the US Department of Homeland Security.

After retirement from full time work at PNNL, he remained active in a part time capacity. Part time work gave him the time to start his own business, Discover Visual Analytics, which focused on providing educational lectures and consulting services in the field of Visual Analytics. He also found more time to indulge in his passions of fly fishing, tennis, music, and supporting Berta in her attempt to grow orchids in the green house he built for her. Jim had friends around the world. He was fortunate to have been able to share so many professional and personal adventures with his beloved friends, collegues, and family.

Jim was a devoted friend, mentor, husband, father, and grandfather. He made a very positive mark on the world and will be sorely missed by all those who were fortunate enough to have been touched by his life. He is survived by his wife, Berta, his two special daughters, Michelle Thomas and her family (husband Mike Baker and children Shelby and Garet) and Lynn Lavey and her family (husband Jeff and children Jordan and Brayden), and his sister Janeen Battan. He is also survived by his two golden retrievers, Callie and the ‘trouble-maker’ Chinook. He will be missed by all!