Dick Thomas was quite a character. You will not find too many guys like Dick, a devout car guy and Checker fan, he applied a strong educational background to his hobby, both in design and modeling.
Dick took over the presidency of the Checker Car Club of America at a very difficult time, after the passing of long time president Steve Wilson. Ultimately, Dick was instrumental in keeping the club on its proper footing. Dick was one of key leaders to develop a board structure for the CCCofA to insure that the club continued forward.
An avid Checker fan, years earlier Dick designed a new look for the Checker Marathon, utilizing fiberglass components and other off the shelf automotive parts. Conceived in the late 70’s the car, called the Checker Summit never made it beyond the early design phases. Dick did build one prototype and pitched the idea to Checker Motor Corp., the project was passed on and conventional Checker production continued until 1982.
Back in the 80’s Dick developed a series of scaled Checker models and as a small cottage industry manufacturer, sold his Checker models all over the world. You could always count on Dick to present a large inventory on display in the back of his Aerobus at the various Checker shows he organized. Today these same models are highly sought after by Checker fans.
As president of the CCCofA, Dick largely promoted the historical aspects of Checker. Prior to the death of long time Checker employee Jim Stout, Dick was able to secure an extended interview with Mr. Stout, so important in preserving Checker history, Dick would pen many articles for the CCCofA.
Perhaps the happiest this writer ever saw Dick was when he was behind the wheel of the famous 1941 Checker Model A. Dick wrote “I was privileged to drive the 41 a block to the truck, which brought it, and to raise the retractable Landua Hardtop. Cameras were flashing all the way to the transport truck. I was in “hog heaven!”.
Here’s Dick’s full obit from Legacy . com
Thomas, Glenn Richard “Dick” 88, Architect, Industrial Designer and inventor, died Monday, November 20, 2017. Preceded in death by his wife, Frances Hart Thomas; parents, Evan and Thelma Thomas; and son, Evan Milam Thomas. Survived by his daughters, Laurette (Tim) Lahey of Wichita, KS, Andrien Thomas (David) of Minneapolis, MN; sons, Markham Thomas (Suanne) of Edmond, OK, Reagan (Yankun) Thomas of Stillwater, OK; nine grandchildren, Whitney Webber (Aaron), Thomas Lahey, Maureen Hageman (Wade), Caitlin Lahey, Patrick Lahey, Sage Coy, Amalie Thomas, Rannock Thomas, Della Thomas; and one great-granddaughter, Grace Hart Webber. Dick Thomas served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during the Korean War designing physical infrastructure for Aggressor war games and entertained his children with stories of army training exercises and speaking Esperanto. After receiving a degree in Architecture from the University of Oklahoma, Dick worked for various architecture and design firms before establishing Thomas Design and his prototype shop.
Dick was inspired by the architecture of Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright, but industrial and automotive design was his passion. His work ranged from designing churches and schools to drilling rigs for the oil and mining industries and all-terrain vehicles for ranchers. Encouraged by colleagues to share his knowledge and experiences in a university setting, Dick taught product design and illustration courses in the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology at Oklahoma State University from 1976 until he retired in 1992. Dick was a member of multiple car clubs including the Studebaker Drivers Club,
Tucker Automobile Car Club and was President of the Checker Car Club of America. A car-nut all of his life, he was a hobbyist car designer and re-designed future versions of his favorite classic cars including the Cord, the Tucker, and the Checker Marathon. A prized possession was a letter from the late Alex Tremulis, Tucker designer, who complimented Dick on his design of an aerodynamic 18-wheeler featured on the June 1986 cover of Popular Mechanics. Dick took up ballroom dancing and rescuing Checkers after Frances, the love of his life, died in 1987.
Dick became known as “Popeye” to family and close friends a name given by his first grandchild. Graveside Service will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, November 25, at Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens, Oklahoma City, OK. In lieu of flowers, a memorial scholarship has been established with the OSU Foundation, PO Box 1749, Stillwater, OK 74076. In the memo line, please note the Glenn Richard Thomas Scholarship in CEAT. Downing & Lahey Mortuary East Chapel.