Rev. Charles Curtis Thomas, Jr., Executive Director Emeritus of Haven of Rest Ministries, passed away January 20, 2013 at the age of 77. Born and raised in the Ellet area of Akron, Rev. Thomas was the younger son of Rev. C.C. and Marjorie Ruth Thomas, co-founders of Haven of Rest Ministries.
He attended Ellet Grace Brethren Church and received Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior at age five. As a child, he spent much of his time with his parents at their fledgling rescue mission on Akron’s North Howard Street. It was there that he discovered the blessing that comes from reaching out in the name of Christ to help those who are often referred to as the least, the last and the lost. Rev. Thomas graduated from Springfield High School in 1953 and from Bob Jones University in 1957 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. While at Bob Jones, he served as song leader for 4000 students in chapel services and played goalie on one of the intramural soccer teams. He was listed in Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges. Upon graduation from college, Rev. Thomas was ordained by The Chapel in Akron and joined the Haven of Rest staff, serving first as Director of Religious Activities and then later as Assistant Superintendent. When his father passed away in 1976, Rev. Thomas was named by the Board of Trustees to be the Mission’s new Executive Director. Under his leadership, Haven of Rest grew to become the largest private social service organization in Akron and an adjacent seven county area. It was under his direction that Haven of Rest opened Harvest Home in 1979, Akron’s first shelter for homeless women and children. He was also instrumental in the formation of an education program that enables indigent men and women to get their GED and make themselves more employable and a career development program to help them find and keep a job. He was widely recognized for his expertise in rescue mission circles. In 1985, Rev. Thomas was awarded the Carnegian International Human Services Award, and in 1993 was selected by the Akron Area Board of Realtors as Citizen of the Year. He was inducted into the Akron Broadcaster Hall of Fame in 1996 in recognition of his 20 years as producer and co-host of the Haven of Rest radio program which he has continued since that time. He was the recipient of the 2002 “Person of the Year” Award presented by PBS 45 and 49 Akron Night, and was named “Outstanding Fundraiser for 2003” by the Ohio Chapter of the Association of Fund Raising Executives. He was a member of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions and a past president of that organization’s Ohio district. He received the City of Akron’s Charles Salem Humanitarian Award in 2005 and was the first recipient of the Russ Reid Rescue Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. On June 30, 2003 after 46 years in the ministry of rescue, Rev. Thomas retired from Haven of Rest and assumed the title of Executive Director Emeritus. His leisure activities included photography, travel, working outside with plants and flowers, and attending family get-togethers. He especially enjoyed the grandchildren’s events. Curt was a friend to all, a godly man of Christian character and integrity.
He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Eileen; daughter Valerie (Cliff) Schmidt; son Charles Curtis Thomas, III (Tina); four grandchildren, Vanessa, Janaya, Bryce, and Julia, and a brother Barry W. (Joan) Thomas of Charlotte, N.C.
Calling hours are Friday, January 25th, from 4 to 7 PM at Redmon Funeral Home in Stow. The funeral service will be held at 11 AM on Saturday, January 26th, with visitation one hour before the service, in the main chapel of Haven of Rest Ministries, 175 E. Market St. in Akron with Rev. Rex Whiteman and Rev. Ben Walker officiating. Private burial will follow. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to The Compassion Fund of Haven of Rest Ministries Endowment Foundation, PO Box 547, Akron, OH 44307-0547.
Mon, January 21, 2013
by Keith Redmon