John Arthur Thomas, a longtime Democratic stalwart and aide to U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg, died on September 2. He was 93.
Thomas joined Lautenberg in 1982 as the deputy campaign director of the senator’s first bid for public office. He spent many years as the deputy director of constituent services in Lautenberg’s Senate office.
Thomas served in the U.S. Army during World War II and was a member of the Army’s Colored Engineer Regiment.
In 1950, Thomas became the first African American to teach high school history in the Newark public school system. He later became the first African American to serve as a head coach of a high school sports team in Newark.
For more than 40 years, Thomas served as an Essex County Democratic Committeeman.
Predeceased by his wife of 61 years, Elizabeth, Thomas is survived by his daughters, Patricia Thomas Wilson and Pamela Thomas-Fields, and five grandchildren.