Robert Thomas

Obituary of Robert C. Thomas

Dr. Robert Cushman Thomas, 89, formerly of Amherst NY, died on December 26th at Maplewood Skilled Nursing in Canton. He was born in Rochester NY on June 17, 1929, to the late Dr. Charles C. Thomas and Pleasantine Doan Thomas, and spent summers in Orford NH. He graduated from Dartmouth College and Johns Hopkins Medical School; he always maintained that some of the scenes in the movie "Animal House" were drawn from the antics of his Dartmouth fraternity. He spent winter college breaks touring New England ski hills, sleeping in a Packard hearse. He spent 9 years in the Navy as a Lieutenant Commander, and was stationed on Key West for several years, including during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He then worked for the VA Hospital in Buffalo, while maintaining a private practice as a thoracic and cardiac surgeon. He participated in the VA program to develop and test the first implantable heart pacemakers. He was also chief of surgery at Niagara Falls Memorial Hospital. After retiring he kept busy as an instructor with the Coast Guard Auxiliary, teaching sailing, celestial navigation and the use of a sextant. He was always ready to tow fellow boaters stranded in the upper Niagara River. He was an avid skier, and also volunteered in the Adaptive Skiing program at Holimont, in Ellicottville. He is survived by his daughter, Susan Smeby (Bruce) of Potsdam; his son Dr. Robert Thomas Jr. of St. Joseph's, MI; his son Glenn of East Amherst NY; 8 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his wife Adrianne, son David, and brother Charles. Per his wishes there will be no memorial service; burial will be in the spring in the Wanakena cemetery. Arrangements are with French Family Funeral Home, Star Lake. Condolences may be shared online at
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