March 1, 2024
P.O. Box 30566
Rochester, NY 14603-0566
Appropriately, our Lifetime Achievement Award is named in honor of Dr. Freddie L. Thomas. He excelled in more fields in one lifetime than most people would in two or three. He was a scholar, scientist, poet, musician, inventor, orator, author, and a
Dr. Thomas was born in 1918 and raised in Norfolk, Virginia. He studied biology at Virginia State University and pre-med at Wagner College where he was one of the first two people of color admitted to the school. He graduated from Wagner in 1950 with a Bachelor of Science degree after which he enrolled at Albany Medical School. He moved to Rochester in 1952 where he amassed an enormous collection of books and absorbed much of the information contained in them. He shared that knowledge by lecturing to individuals as well as large groups. Many still remember the home of Thomas and his wife, Margaret “Midge” Thomas, on Skuse Street as a center of learning, discussion, and inspiration for the community where he tutored and taught hundreds of students. His interests were very much afro-centric.
He was hired by Eastman Kodak as a research technologist and contributed greatly with inventions that helped advance the company. He later joined the University of Rochester’s School of Medicine and Dentistry. He did significant biological research there concerning continuous dynamics, perfusion chambers and tissue culture techniques relating to transplantation compatibility. For this, he received worldwide attention from the scientific community and was invited to lecture in a multitude of countries.
As indicated in the book entitled “The Biography of Dr. Freddie L. Thomas” by Rodney Brown, he was truly a well respected, effective, and appreciated “silent leader.”