Gerald Eustis Thomas, 89, a retired Rear Admiral and U.S. Ambassador passed away on March 20, 2019 in New Haven, CT. He was the second black officer to achieve the rank of Admiral in the United States Navy. Admiral Thomas was born in Natick, Massachusetts on June 23, 1929, the son of Walter W. and Leila L. (Jacobs) Thomas. He received his BA from Harvard University in 1951, and as a member of the NROTC, was commissioned as Ensign upon graduation. As a career officer, Admiral Thomas earned his MS from George Washington and his Ph.D. from Yale University. He held several sea commands including Destroyer Squadron Nine, and Cruiser Destroyer Group Five. He served as Director of the Near East South Asia Region in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, and from 1978 until his retirement in 1981, commanded the Training Command of the Pacific Fleet. Admiral Thomas was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Guyana by President Reagan in 1981, and in 1983 was named Ambassador to Kenya. In 1986, Admiral Thomas joined the Yale community in a joint appointment as a Lecturer in the departments of History and African-American Studies. At a later date, he was appointed Master of Davenport College, and served in that capacity for ten years. He held memberships in several professional and social organizations, including Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and the Beta Tau Boule of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity. Admiral Thomas leaves his wife of 64 years, Rhoda, and their three children: Dr. Kenneth A. Thomas of Woodbridge, CT, Hon. Steven E. Thomas (Pamela Smith, Esq.) of Westwood, MA, and Lisa Thomas Jacobs (Col. Lee Jacobs) of Poway, CA, as well as many loving grandchildren. Friends may visit with the Admiral's family at Beecher & Bennett Funeral Home, 2300 Whitney Ave., Hamden on Tuesday, March 26th from 10:30 a.m. prior to his service, which will begin at 11:00 a.m. Burial with full Military Honors will follow in Grove Street Cemetery, New Haven. Donations in his memory may be given to Parkinson's Disease research.

View current weather.

Memories Timeline

View the Timeline


  1. I believe strongly in the -power of the individual- to make meaningful social change. To quote Margaret Mead, -Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.- Admiral Gerald Thomas devoted his life to doing exactly that empowering either the individuals under his command, in his classrooms, or in his family or friends. He taught them by his example to lead and take action to address the complex issues that are affecting our communities and our world. He was a positive force for change in this world…a truly honorable man. We admired his commitment to excellence and effort and his infallible devotion to his family. God Bless Gerry! Regina & David Rutter

  2. Rhoda and family,
    Al and I send heartfelt condolences to you . Our faith teaches us that they who mourn are blessed. In this time of sorrow we know it is hard for you to feel blessed. Gerald has run his race with life having been a loving husband, father, and grandfather. Concentrate on the happy times that are stored in your heart. God can heal your heart and mind to accept your loss and guide you to keep his memory alive!

    With Deepest Sympathy,

    Al and Thelma Johnson

  3. What a wonderful person. He will be missed. He brought me to Davenport College as a fellow–and my very young (at that time) son Basie rode his bike around the courtyard and considered him to be another grandfather, Basie had no doubt that he wanted to be in Davenport when he came to Yale.
    He was a leader, a scholar, and a true gentleman. Love to Rhoda and the family.
    Jay, Ginny, and Basie

  4. Rhoda and family, Bettye and I send you our deepest condolences. Gerald was a remarkable man who we very much admired. He was an icon for good and brilliance in all aspects of life and inspired all in the social networks around him. Our fondest memories were of his joy and excitement at the Yale football games! He will be missed, but I hope the fond memories will heal your hearts. With sympathy and love.
    Jim and Bettye Comer

  5. On this Christmas Day, I extend warm regards and my condolences to The Thomas Family. Semper Fi, Verse Pearson, Jr Captain, USMC

Sign the Guestbook, Light a Candle

Sign the Guestbook