Former Dallas County Sheriff Carl Henry Thomas, Jr., died in his home in Kemp on Sunday at the age of 77 after a two year battle with pancreatic cancer.
Thomas was born on June 12, 1944 to Carl and Frances Thomas in Sulphur Springs, Texas.
During his youth, he was an avid baseball player, often winning all-around titles.
Thomas served in the United States Marine Corps from 1961 to 1976 with two tours in the Vietnam Conflict as well as participation in the Cuban Crises.
During his time in the Corps, he received the Presidential Unit Citation Award, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Vietnamese Campaign Medal, Vietnamese Service Medal with Two Bronze Stars, Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation Award, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, and Meritorious Service Award.
During his service in Vietnam, Thomas met the love of his life, Susan Harmel, after responding to an article she posted in the Stars and Stripes. He and Susan were pen pals for six months before finally meeting in 1976.
When they finally met in person, they dated for two weeks and were married on August 17, 1967 in Richardson.
Shortly after graduating with a degree in criminal Justice from Abilene Christian University, Thomas read an article in a local newspaper stating that the “Dallas County Sheriff’s Department needed a Marine at the Helm” and decided it was his calling.
Thomas was elected Sheriff of Dallas County in 1976 after rigorous campaigning organized by his family.
During his tenure, he commenced a jail ministry where prisoners were often baptized and attended bible classes. He was the first in the nation to institute a jail classification system and computerized the entire department.
He also founded Thomas Protective Service, Inc. in 1981. Thomas and his wife grew the company to a competitive small business with a reputation of service excellence.
Thomas was also an active member of the Landmark Church of Christ for the last fifteen years.