William Grady Thomas of Bristol, Tenn., died on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019 with family by his side. He was 85 years old.
Dr. Thomas received his B.S. at Appalachian State University, his M.S. from Washington University in St. Louis and earned his Ph.D. from the University of Florida. He was the first clinical audiologist in the state of North Carolina. He retired from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1985 where he taught at the School of Medicine’s Division of Otolaryngology. He headed the hospital’s hearing and speech department and did extensive research related to the auditory system and brain stem. He was the author of numerous scientific papers and book chapters and was listed in Who’s Who in American Science. He served as chairman of the Medical Advisory Council for OSHA. As an expert on the vestibular system, the highlight of Dr. Thomas’ career was consulting with NASA to investigate causes of space sickness, as he was a serious student of astronomy and astrophysics. Upon retirement, Dr. Thomas went into private practice in audiology in Raleigh, N.C., and later in North Myrtle Beach. He relocated to Bristol in 2006.
Grady was the son of the late Leon and Ida Thomas and was born in Shopton, N.C. He was preceded in death by his brother, Leon Thomas, and sisters Louise Frazier, Lois Moser and Ruth McGarry. He is survived by his wife of 39 years, Carolyn McEvoy Thomas of Bristol, and his children, Elizabeth Wendall Thomas and husband James Bartlett of Los Angeles, William “Bill” Grady Thomas Jr. and wife Angie Baumgardner Thomas and Kim Thomas Stout and husband Ray Stout. He has two grandchildren, Chance and Bailey Thomas.
Grady was a gifted athlete, having played baseball and football in high school and college. He enjoyed athletics well into his later years and developed a passion for golf. He was also a lover of music and enjoyed singing.
Grady will forever be remembered for his brilliant mind, quick and gentle wit, ability to make others comfortable, his love of science and math, contemplating the universe, his extensive knowledge of history and his love of dogs. He possessed a unique gift for putting things in perspective and never sweating the small stuff.
A small celebration of life will be held by the family at a later date.