Wilkes University

Wilkes Mourns the Passing of Dr. Steven Thomas

It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I share news of the passing of Dr. Steven Thomas. Steven passed away on Sunday, July 12, at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania after a yearlong battle with cancer.

Steven came to Wilkes University in 1999. In his 21-year career, he was fully dedicated to the musical education of our students. He most recently served as Professor of Music and Chair of the Division of Performing Arts, directing the University Chorus and the Chamber Singers.  Every performance of the choral and chamber singers was filled with joy due to the enthusiasm and love that Steven brought to every event. His passion was infectious.

Steven was a force at Wilkes and a mainstay in the local community, serving as the music director of the Arcadia Chorale, a chamber choir based in northeast Pennsylvania. He also sang tenor in the Lyric Consort, an eight-member professional a cappella ensemble. He prepared choruses for performances with a wide variety of ensembles and artists, including the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic, the Hartford Symphony, the Boston Camerata and Dave Brubeck. Many of us on campus and in the greater community looked forward to concerts under his direction.

A native of Kansas City, Missouri, Steven was an accomplished academic. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Music from Harvard University and his Doctor of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting from Yale University. During his career, he studied with Jameson Marvin, Beverly Taylor, Marguerite Brooks and Murry Sidlin.

Steven is survived by his loving wife, Susan Minsavage, Kingston, Pa., a Wilkes alumna. Also surviving are his parents, Marian and Timothy Thomas, Kansas; his brother, Peter Thomas, sister-in-law Diana Steele and their daughters, Mariana and Eliza Jane, all in Ohio; and his sister, Julie Thomas, Kansas. Born on July 14, 1970, today would have been Steven’s 50th birthday.

A private service will be held this week in Philadelphia. When it is safe to do so, a celebration of his life will also be held, full of the music and singing that is appropriate of a career dedicated to the arts. Though expressions of sympathy are welcome, please note that Sue will remain in the Philadelphia area in the coming weeks. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Cancer Society's Hope Lodge in Cheltenham: www.cancer.org.

Please join me in extending our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to members of his family, particularly Sue who has been by his side. We share in the grief of his campus colleagues, friends and all who were blessed to know him. You may read his obituary here.