Wednesday August 19, 2009
DR. ALAN MILLER THOMAS (II) (PHD, C.M.) It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our father, Alan Miller Thomas Sr., June 26th, 1928 August 14th, 2009, Waterloo Ontario. Predeceased by his wife of 49 years, JoAnne Elton Thomas. Survived by his Sister Joan McCrodan (John), his children Alan M. Thomas Jr., Matthew Andre Elton Thomas (Mairead Sheerin), Rachel Anne Thomas (Tal Hebdon), Martha Okot Thomas (Ted Rush) and his grandchildren Jeffrey, Justin, Mary and Alison, Joseph Michael and Cormac, Celeste, and Drew and Jordan and very special friend Doreen Uren Simmons. In his own words, Dad's life was an adventure. He was a true Canadian, a visionary, a decorated scholar, an intellectual inquisitive and a family man. He was well respected by his peers, colleagues, students, friends and loved ones. Dad's passion was in the complete and total comprehension of 'learning'. From the time that he taught older 'maidens' on educational tours to Europe on ships (before flying) he had found his passion. 'I had no idea what I should become. I fell into Adult Education as a vocation and as a cause. I never looked back.' In 1953 he met Roby Kidd and had his first job in the field working for the Canadian Association for Adult Education (CAAE). On becoming the Executive Director of the CAAE in 1961, he felt he 'was captain of my own ship'. His career took him to Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania, Malawi, Australia, Thailand and Japan among other places. He would play an instrumental role in the development of the Canadian Association of University Continuing Education and the Association of Community Colleges in Canada. He worked as an Executive Assistant to Robert Stanbury, a new minister in the Trudeau government. That took him and his family to Ottawa and facilitated the purchase of the farm in Tweed. The farm in fact, was the site of a week long conference of the Vanier Institute of the Family. His path would cross Roby's once again when he replaced him as the Chair of the Department of Adult Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education in the early seventies. 'In teaching, I liked dealing with equals that is adult students. In research, I wanted to bolster the description of adult education in general. We described adult education in Labour, Industry and Prisons. There was no human field of endeavour where there wasn't some kind of education of adults. By describing the special operations, we could transfer that knowledge to preparing adult educators.' Throughout his career, Dad was involved in conference organization, policy development, federal politics, and broadcasting. In collaboration with CBC, Dad spearheaded the development of a three hour 'reality' show called People Talking Back. 'The situation was this: Rene Levesque had become Premier of Quebec with his promise to have a referendum as soon as possible. Canada was in tumult. I was in tumult. I was President of the Canadian Association for Adult Education, based in Toronto. I believed that Adult Education had a role in the process, and never faltered from that belief.' This kind of open, participatory democracy has become a mainstay of modern political discourse. In 1982 Dad was presented with to Adult Education in Canada. positive and industrious impact through his work, his teachings, an Order of Canada for his contribution This was recognition of the incredibly that he has had on so many Canadians his writings and his passion. In his personal life, Dad was a true Canadian and a family oriented man. His passion, energy and devotion to all that he loved was unwavering and he took his passion for learning every where he went and did his best to pass it on to his children. Each one of his children has driven from the east coast of Canada to the West Coast at least once but not necessarily all at once. He took his family to Africa where he gained a new perspective on the family, particularly to love them at the age they were. 'I sigh that kiss you, For I must own, That I will miss you When you are grown' Yeats Dad and Mom were part of `60s movement of Canadians to re-inhabit the downtown cores of our cities. 'We joined the 'white-painters' on Rathnally Avenue. We joined a lot of young middle class folks with small children. It was sooner than the Crombie by-law which addressed the phenomenon of the `empty downtown'. We were pioneers and bonded enough to create the `Republic of Rathnally'. We wrote to Prime Minister Trudeau to ask if we could secede from the city of Toronto and create our own republic. We received a personal reply.' Rarely a national holiday passed when Dad was not down at Queens Park, placing his kids on the walls in Bloor next to the OISE building to watch a parade, or standing on the roof of the house to watch the fireworks. In his later years, Dad was given the honour of sitting on the board of the Carold Institute. Voluntary organizations were always very important to Dad and he was proud to be part of Carold. 'Voluntary organizations are the lynch pin of the democratic society and the social engines of learning'. The Carold Institute gave Dad another opportunity to lend his skills, share his knowledge and to learn. He learned how to choose board members and was proud to be the Treasurer with six clean audit reports behind him. A final testament to Dad's passion for the importance of learning is that all four of his children have been or are currently involved in facilitating the learning of others. 'We And Will And shall not cease from exploration the end of all our exploring be at arrive where we started know the place for the first time' Little Gidding, T.S. Eliot The family will receive friends at the HUMPHREY FUNERAL HOME A.W. MILES CHAPEL, 1403 Bayview Avenue (south of Davisville Avenue) from 2:00 to 4:00 and 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Sunday, August 23. Funeral service will be held in ROSEDALE UNITED CHURCH, on Monday, August 24 at 11 o'clock. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Council of Canadians, Elderhostel, TASA (Toronto Adult Student Association), or Sunnybrook Hospital (Geriatric). Condolences and memories may be forwarded through www.humphreymiles.com.