Al was born on February 25, 1930, in Statesville, NC to the late Williford Emmett Thomas and Hester Holder Thomas. He grew up attending schools in Wilson. Al received his undergraduate degree from Davidson College, Davidson, NC, and his Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary, Richmond, Va. He later received his M.Ed. and Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
He is survived by the love of his life, Elaine Bissette Thomas, to whom he was married for 61 years. He is also survived by their four children: Philip Thomas of Raleigh, Deborah Davis and husband John of Garner, David Thomas and wife Lisa of Cornelius, and Melanie Biddell and husband David of Raleigh. Al was very proud of his beautiful grandchildren: Blake Thomas, Heather Davis Cones and husband Jaron, Hillary Davis, Kendall and Luke Thomas and Caitlin, Drew and Grace Biddell.
Al was deeply devoted to his family and cherished time spent together. He enjoyed family beach vacations and frequent family gatherings, and he loved attending the athletic events, dance recitals, and concerts of his grandchildren.
Al devoted his life’s work to ministry in the Presbyterian Church (USA). He was ordained at Oak Grove Presbyterian Church in 1954. In 1957, Al was the founding pastor of Butner Presbyterian Church in Butner, NC. From 1970-1983, he was the Director of Counseling Ministries for the Presbyterian Synod of North Carolina.
This position included serving as Director of the Presbyterian Counseling Center located in Laurinburg, NC as well as adjunct psychology professor at St. Andrews College. From 1983-1991, Al was the Executive Presbyter for Orange and New Hope Presbyteries. Over the years, Al was invited to speak to groups and lead seminars and workshops with special emphasis on personal and spiritual growth, team-building, Christian vocation and adult career development.
In retirement, Al continued to lead worship in various churches as well as for weddings, funerals, and church anniversaries. He also taught psychology classes at local community colleges. He enjoyed a passion for writing and published six books during his lifetime.
Al was a wise, life-affirming, and compassionate man. In the words found in the sixth chapter of Micah, he lived his life doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with his God. He used his gifts to minister to others in many areas, and in doing so, showed the wondrous love of God and His son Jesus Christ.
The family would like to thank the medical staff at Rex Cancer Center for their dedication and loving care.
A celebration of Al’s life will be held on Saturday, August 4 at 3 pm at Hudson Memorial Presbyterian Church, 4921 Six Forks Road, Raleigh, NC 27609. In lieu of flowers, you may consider donations to the Hudson Memorial Presbyterian Church Foundation, 4921 Six Forks Road, Raleigh, NC 27609.
Arrangements by Cremation Society of the Carolinas, 2205 East Millbrook Road, Raleigh, NC 27604.
Published in The News & Observer on July 29, 2018