Remembering Carlton Thomas
AHA Staff, September 1995
Carlton Thomas, a long-time AHA employee, died August 6 after a long illness. He was 43. Carlton came to the AHA in June 1975, and, shortly afterward, joined the membership department. He served through a period of major changes within the Association, including the automation of the membership department in 1981, and he continued to assume new responsibilities. In 1990, Carlton was named membership secretary.
During his 20 years with the AHA, Carlton attended 17 annual meetings. He oversaw the preregistration process and could always be found behind the membership desk. In a 1985 newsletter article observing his 10-year anniversary, Carlton said, "I love going to the meetings and meeting the members. You finally meet the people you speak with on the phone all the time. They're interesting people and it helps for them to meet us too." Members appreciated Carlton's even-tempered approach to solving the problems that inevitably arose in the chaos of an annual meeting. He went out of his way to assist members and to ensure that everything ran smoothly. In many ways, his coworkers relied on him as well. For example, he always made sure that all the materials needed for the meeting—sometimes up to 200 boxes' worth—got to the site and back again.
Carlton enjoyed gourmet cooking and often organized potluck meals for the AHA staff. Many times over the years, AHA staff members entered the office in the morning to the fragrant aroma of barbecue that Carlton had been up all night preparing. His inspiration will continue. Within this past year, staff members have begun once again meeting regularly to resume the tradition he started. However, the sweet tones of his voice leading our singing of Christmas carols cannot be replaced.
Carlton was also a great sports enthusiast and coached numerous basketball and football teams, offering an outlet for youths without many options. He was always ready to assist whenever he was needed and often used personal funds to buy uniforms for the teams.
In 1985, when reflecting on his first 10 years at the AHA, Carlton said, "I really like working here. Everyone around here is nice to work with and it's a lot of fun—most of the time!" He was a kind and generous man who will be greatly missed by his family and friends, his coworkers, and AHA members.