Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

July 7, 2013

Community champion dies at 81

ASHLAND — Suffragan Bishop Elzy Thomas was remembered Saturday by friends as a man of God who also had a passion for family and community.

Thomas died at his residence with his wife, Margaret, by his side. He was 81.

“He was an absolute leader in our community with all races,” said Ashland Schools Superintendent Steve Gilmore, who knew the Thomas family well. “He’s one of the finest men I ever knew.

“I think a good man is amplified by the family he raises. He lived his faith and it was reflected in his kids. They’ve all been contributors in the community.”

Thomas was called as the pastor of Christ Temple Church of the Apostolic Faith in 1962. In July 1996, he was appointed as Suffragan Bishop of the First Apostolic Council of Kentucky and Middle Tennessee.

No matter what else he did, community was always important to him, said Ashland Mayor Chuck Charles.

“He was one of our major leaders in the community not only the church community but the total community,” Charles said. “He was a great man. I respected him a lot. Every time I talked to him it was like an honor for me. He was one of those guiding lights for us all.”

Thomas graduated from Booker T. Washington School in 1950 and attended Capital University in Columbus for a year. He later served in the U.S. Army in the medical field. He returned to Ashland after his tour in the service and was employed with Second National Bank and later Armco Steel until his retirement.

He was honored by the Ashland Booker T. Washington Sports Committee in 2007 for what he did in the community. BTW school was an important part of the Ashland community from 1923 through 1961.

“He had the betterment of the community in mind,” Charles said. “Not everybody had that focus but he did. He kind of reminds me of (late Ashland city commissioner) Wendell Banks in that way.”

Chris Hammond was a friend of Thomas and is a minister himself. He called Thomas “an example of what it means to live the Word, as well as preach it.

“Bishop Elzy was a genuine, blood bought, spirit-filled, God-fearing man of God,” he said. “A true Vessel of Honor before God, His church body, family and community. I can’t wait to see him again, soon."

Steen Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements, which are pending. Contributions may be made to Christ Temple Church, 2601 Lexington Avenue, Ashland, KY 41101.

MARK MAYNARD can be reached at mmaynard@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2648.

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