Jerry D. Thomas, writer of nearly 60 books for children and adults, passed away on Friday, March 15, 2019, from complications from a blood clot. His works include the best sellers Messiah, Blessings, and A Thoughtful Hour. Thomas also wrote and created popular series such as Detective Zack, Great Stories for Kids, and Shoebox Kids. He was 59.
“His ability to convey spiritual topics in precise, easy-to-understand language touched many lives,” said Miguel Valdivia, vice president of Product Development for Pacific Press Publishing Association in Idaho.
Before coming to Pacific Press, Thomas served as a Bible teacher at Highland View Academy in Hagerstown, Maryland. Colleagues, friends, and former students have expressed sadness at his passing on social media. Many have also shared their appreciation for “PT” (Pastor Thomas) and his compassion, humor, and insightfulness during his years at HVA.
“I will always remember PT as an important part of my adolescence. He was a great teacher and a truly wonderful human being,” said HVA alumnus David Fales.
Sandra Skeggs Ringer, also a former student, said, “He was my high school class sponsor before becoming famous. I babysat his children on numerous occasions. As a parent, my children read his books and met PT at Oshkosh [Wisconsin]. As an adult, I have been blessed by his book Messiah.”
Thomas started working at Pacific Press on April 4, 1991, as an associate book editor; later on he became the editor in charge of the trade books team. During those years, Thomas developed what perhaps remains his best-known work, the Detective Zack set, an adventure mystery series for young readers that revealed Bible truth in a captivating narrative.
Thomas went on to write or develop close to 60 books, including Messiah, a paraphrase of Ellen G. White’s The Desire of Ages. Messiah was published in 2002 with the approval of the Ellen G. White Estate; it became a best-seller in various formats. More than 500,000 copies of Messiah have been sold. In total, Thomas’ books have sold more than 1.5 million copies through the years.
“Jerry touched our lives through his words and actions,” said Laura Sámano, Guide magazine managing editor, on Facebook. “He believed in the people he hired, and he supported us. He was a friend to us in his own quiet way. More than just a creative author, Jerry was a good person. He was authentic. His passing is a loss to Adventism, to the world of writing, and to the Pacific Press editorial family. I’m grateful to have worked alongside such a talented author and kindhearted servant of the Lord. I will miss him dearly.”
Thomas left Pacific Press in 2003 to work as the Communication director for the Southwestern Union Conference in Keene, Texas, where he remained until October 2008, when he was invited to come back to Pacific Press as vice president of the editorial department.
“He will be missed by his coworkers for his kindness, his unwavering support, his great talent, and his exceptional wit,” said Valdivia.
Thomas is survived by his wife, Kitty; children Jonathan, Jennifer, and Jeremy and their spouses; and four grandchildren. A memorial service is scheduled for today, March 20, at 6:30 p.m. MT, at the Kuna Seventh-day Adventist Church in Idaho. Click here for a livestream of the service.
— Pacific Press Publishing Association, with the NAD Office of Communication