~~Richard DeWitt Thomas, Jr., 65, of Long Valley, formerly of Florham Park, New Jersey, passed away on September 26, 2016 surrounded by family and close friends. Born in Orange, Rick was raised in Florham Park, where he lived until moving three years ago to a group home in Long Valley, which gave him much joy and freedom.
Rick graduated from Hanover Park High School in 1971 and was the first permanently disabled person to attend and graduate from the school. He went on to attend Drew University, where again he was the first permanently disabled wheelchair bound student to attend. From 1973-1977, Rick attended Ramapo College, where he served on the founding committee for the office of specialized services, which served the social needs of the physically disabled. Rick was voted keynote speaker at his graduation. Rick was an advocate for the physically disabled and elderly, serving on committees in Morristown to distribute monies to physically disabled people.
Rick served as Deacon at Brooklake Community Church in Florham Park, and then attended Calvary Baptist Church in Morristown. For the last three years, Rick has belonged to Powerhouse Christian Church in Bridgewater, where he was a member of the worship team and played the xylophone. He worked as a computer technical programmer at Cheshire Home in Florham Park for many years.
Predeceased by his wife Carolyn and step brother Jeff Briggs; Rick is survived by his brother David P. Thomas; sister Marilee T. Kaye; step brothers Bill Briggs, Jon Briggs and Chris Briggs; step sisters Linda Shaw and Leslie Black; and many nephews and nieces, and several great nieces and nephews. We loved, and will miss, this beautiful soul who touched so many.
There will be a memorial visitation on Friday, October 7, 2016 from 6-9pm at the Wm A. Bradley & Son Funeral Home, 345 Main Street, Chatham. There will be a memorial service on Saturday. October 8, 2016 at 10am at the United Methodist Church, 24 Madison Avenue in Madison. Interment of ashes will follow at Restland Memorial Park, East Hanover.
In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Rick may be made to Special Homes of New Jersey, 92 Broadway, Denville, NJ 07834.