A man who devoted much of his life to the Cleveland community and Cleveland ISD schools was recognized by the City of Cleveland at Tuesday night’s council meeting. Cleveland Mayor Richard Boyett and Mayor Pro Tem Marilyn Clay presented a plaque and a proclamation recognizing Feb. 21, 2023, as William N. Thomas Day in Cleveland.
Thomas, who began his 28-year career as an educator in Cleveland ISD in 1957, was a faculty member at the former Douglass High School and Cleveland High School, teaching economics, government and world history.
He also served as chair of the Social Studies Department and was a supporter of the District’s Audio-Visual Club, Student Council and track and field events. He also was the senior prom advisor.
Thomas was educated at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, where he earned a bachelor of arts degree, and Prairie View A&M University, where he earned a master’s degree. He was an instructor at Wiley College prior to teaching secondary education.
In reading the proclamation, Clay explained that Thomas was the first black Cleveland resident elected at-large to Cleveland City Council in 1969. He also was an influential civic leader for the Greater Cleveland Chamber of Commerce, Citizens Active Organization, Pct. 20 Executive Committee and Liberty County Housing Authority Board.
At the state level, Thomas was involved with the Texas Municipal League and the Texas Black Democrats. In 1976, he was elected to represent Liberty County as a delegate to the National Democratic Convention in New York City.
“He received an honorary appointment as an ambassador of goodwill by Texas Governor Dolph Briscoe and posthumous recognition by President Ronald Reagan for his military service in Alaska during World War II,” Clay read. “In honor of his dedication, commitment and hard work, the City of Cleveland, Texas, is proclaiming February 21, 2023, as William N. Thomas Day.”
Thomas, who died in 1985, was married to another Cleveland ISD educator Meta Thomas. She spent five decades at Cleveland ISD, teaching Spanish and English. Like her husband, Meta was a dedicated public servant and was the first woman elected to Cleveland City Council in 1985, serving three terms and as mayor pro tem.
The Thomases have two children – William N. (Bill) Thomas III of Huntsville, Texas, and Nydia D. Thomas of Austin.