Richard “Lee” Thomas

Richard “Lee” Thomas, 71, of Knoxville passed away on July 14, 2019 after an extended illness.  Lee was born September 2, 1947 in Brownsville, TN.  He is preceded in death by his parents, Wayne Thomas, and Ola Hunt Thomas. Lee is survived by his wife of 37 years, Shirley Hitchcox Thomas and his son, Tyler Hunt Thomas, of Knoxville; a twin brother, Robert Lyn Thomas and Cathy Thomas;  and a sister Anne Aycock, and the late David Aycock; sisters and brothers-in-law Diane and Shannon Curtis; and Bill Hitchcox and Susie Himebaugh. He is survived by eight nieces and nephews.

Lee had an undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee, Martin, and a Masters degree in Business from the University of Tennessee, Nashville. 

Lee spent his career in various capacities serving the people of Tennessee who had mental challenges, most recently, as the Superintendent/Chief Executive Officer of Lakeshore Mental Health Facility in Knoxville for 22 years. He was dedicated to the patients/clients and staff of Lakeshore prior to its closure in 2012.  

Lee’s hobbies included wood working, camping, and vintage cars, restoring more than one 1965 mustang.  He loved to bring back the beauty of things that had seen better days.

Lee was known for his character and quick wit.  Lee was a humble, quiet man, never bringing attention to himself but was always well spoken.

Lee was involved in the community as a graduate of Leadership Knoxville, and worked on several committees for United Way.

A memorial service will be held at Lakeshore Park Marble Hall (Chapel) Saturday, July 20, at 11:00 am.  In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Parkinson’s Foundation or your favorite charity.

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  1. Oh Shirley, I am so so sorry that Lee has suffered so long with this dreadful disease. I have a friend whose husband also passed away a couple of years ago from Parkinson’s. She went through a lot too. My heart goes out to you sweet friend. Sorry I won’t be able to come but I’m having a few health issues but nothing like Lee. Stay strong for a little while longer, miss you so much and think of you often. God knew it was time to call Lee Home. Love, Peggy

  2. Shirley, you and Tyler are very much in our thoughts and prayers as has been Lee all these years, starting well before you got married at our home. Your friendship has always been near and dear.

    God Bless & Peace,

    Ed & BJ

  3. Our relationship with you and Lee started long long ago and there are no words we could express that would get close to our love and emotional caring.
    Life is such a mystery and we will never understood why good people have to suffer so much. Lee was a trooper and you were the one that made sure his quality of life was a good as it could be. We would say you were his personal hero and along with Tyler he loved you both dearly.
    We are with you in Spirit and know we love you so much.

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