Published in the County Times on Fri 10 Feb 2017
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Paul Thomas - P - assed away on October 11, 2016 in California, following a traffic accident. He will be dearly missed by his wife Mimy Ng, ex-wife Carolyn Porter, son George Porter Thomas, and by his friends and family around the world.
Paul was born in Chester in 1943 to Roy and Mona Thomas; the family moved to Welshpool in 1950. Paul attended Bronwylfa School and Welshpool High School, and always had fond memories of his childhood in Wales with his dear friends Tinty Griffith and Pete Roberts. He particularly enjoyed following Wolves and attending jazz concerts throughout the UK featuring all the ‘greats’ such as Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and many others. He also loved his annual trips to Suffolk joining other university students for ‘apple picking’ vacations. After graduating from the University of Manchester in 1965, he was among the first John F. Kennedy Scholars from the U.K. to attend Harvard University, where he was awarded a Doctorate in Political Theory in 1973. After teaching at the University of California, Davis and the University of Liverpool, Paul was a professor at the University of California, Berkeley from 1975 until his retirement in 2012. Across those four decades, he had a distinguished academic career, authoring and co-authoring four books on Marxism, and publishing widely on political theory and film. In the classroom, Paul was known for his vast cultural knowledge, teaching courses in American culture, music, film, and politics, and for mentoring several generations of undergraduate and graduate students with expertise, solidarity, and wit.
At home, Paul loved nothing more than a crossword puzzle or a good book, except of course playing jazz really loud. He was an arch storyteller, and he found a way to share his infinite capacity for wonder with all. He was convivial to a fault, socially democratic in his politics and at his dinner parties, too. Some will note a strange coincidence here: when Paul was a small child in Welshpool, he ran into the street and was hit by a lorry. He survived, of course, and spent a month recovering in a hospital ward full of soldiers, where he had such a blast that, the story goes, he didn't want to go home. Perhaps it was from that experience that he got his joie de vivre, sense of humour, and love for good company. We best honour him by trying to live our lives with a little of his panache.