Perry Thomas, former alderman and councilman, dies at 66


By Joe Rutherford

Daily Journal

TUPLELO – Perry K. Thomas III, a longtime Tupelo civic activist and former member of the Board of Aldermen and the Tupelo City Council, died unexpectedly Saturday morning at his residence.

Thomas, 66, who served two terms on the Board of Aldermen and, later, a term on the City Council after a change in the form of government, was a lifelong Tupelo resident whose passion for his hometown followed examples set by his father, P.K. Thomas, Jr., MD, and his grandfather, Perry Thomas.

His former employer and friend, Markel Whittington, said Thomas “had a real heart for Tupelo for serving mankind.”

Whittington, who owns an office supply business, said his association with Thomas began in the early 1980s, when Thomas came in his office to get copies made.

“I asked Perry how he was doing,” Whittington said. “He said, ‘I am looking for a job.’ Well, I turned to go make the copies and, I turned around and said, “Why don’t you go to work for me.’”

Thomas worked for Whittington from the early 1980s to 2012, when he retired.

Whittington said of Thomas, who had chronic physical difficulties, “He was a suffering servant. He never complained. He never missed a day of work.”

Whittington, a Tupelo councilman, didn’t serve with Thomas but said he always had Tupelo’s best interests at heart.

Dick Hill, another longtime friend and former councilman, said, “I think he probably represented the best as a public servant. He was dedicated to trying to move the best interests of the city forward.”

Thomas was an honors graduate of Tupelo High School and earned a degree in animal science from Mississippi State University.

Friends and family said he was a farmer who loved animals. He served as president of Big Oaks Farm LLC at his death.

He was a lifelong active member of the First Presbyterian Church of Tupelo, where he was a ruling elder, former 17-season youth basketball coach, a Boy Scout leader, an Eagle Scout and member of the Order of the Arrow.

Funeral services are set at 11 a.m. Monday at First Presbyterian Church, 400 Jefferson St., Tupelo. Visitation will be in McFadden Hall at the church 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. today, and 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. Monday before the service. W.E. Pegues is in charge of arrangements.

He is survived by his wife, Judy Thomas, three children and three grandchildren.

Click video to hear audio