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Harry K. Thomas, Esq.

March 8, 1941 ~ March 28, 2012 (age 71)

     Harry K. Thomas, Esq., 71, of Erie, died Wednesday, March 28, 2012, in Pinellas Park, FL.  He was born March 8, 1941 in Mount Joy, PA, son of the late Harry K. Thomas, Sr. and Ruth Shaeffer Thomas.

     A 1959 graduate of Ft. LeBoeuf High School, Atty. Thomas earned a B.S. in Education from Edinboro University in 1963 and a Juris Doctor Degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1970.  He served as Administrative Assistant to Senior U.S. District Judge Joseph P. Willson, Western District of PA and as Law Clerk to Judge Gerald J. Weber, U.S. District Court for the Western District of PA. 

     In 1972 he began his affiliation with Knox McLaughlin Gornall & Sennett Law Firm where he was admitted as partner in 1978, served as a member of the Board of Directors and Chaired its Workers’ Compensation Department for many years, which he built into a leading practice in the region, retiring in December 2011. He was a member of the Pennsylvania and Florida Bar Associations.  He was Past Chairman of the PA Bar Association Workers’ Compensation Section and a member of its Executive Committee, served on the Erie County Bar Association Workers’ Compensation Committee and Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee; and was a past member of Workers’ Compensation Judge’s Rules of Procedure Committee of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.  In 2010 he was the recipient of a state-wide award, The Irwin Stander Memorial Award for professionalism from the PA Bar Association.  He was also recognized by his inclusion in the “Best Lawyers in America (Workers’ Compensation Law)” this past year.  He will be awarded the Erie County Bar Association’s most prestigious award, The Chancellor of the Bar Award, at this year’s Law Day Luncheon.

     He was a member and past Chairperson of the Council of Trustees of Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and a member and past President of the Pennsylvania Association of Councils of Trustees of the State System of Higher Education. 

     Prior to attending law school he taught World and U.S. History and was an assistant junior varsity football coach at Academy High School.

     Atty. Thomas was a member of First Presbyterian Church of the Covenant, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Valley of Erie, Charlotteville Lodge No. 0073 F.& A.M., Lockport, NY and the Erie Club; and a lifetime member of the Erie Maennerchor Club.  He enjoyed spending summers at the family summer house on Edinboro Lake, entertaining, grilling and boating.  He traveled on many wonderful fishing trips with great friends to Port Clinton, OH and Canada.  He was an avid Pittsburgh Steeler fan and had a “man cave” filled with memorabilia of his favorite team.  He was thrilled to attend Super Bowl XLIII where he got to see his precious Steelers win their sixth Super Bowl ring.

     Survivors include his wife of 44 years, Susan C. Bengston Thomas; a daughter, Lynette Willis and husband Peter of Morrisville, NC; a son, Christopher Thomas of White Plains, NY; a sister, Helen Shiffer of St. Petersburg, FL; three grandchildren, Anna, Carter and baby Thomas (due April 18, 2012) Willis; and two Nephews.

     Two brothers, Joseph and William McLaughlin, preceded him in death.

     Friends may call Sunday 2 to 5 and Monday 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. at the Scott Funeral Home, 2104 Myrtle Street.  A service will be held at First Presbyterian Church of the Covenant, 250 West 7th Street, Tuesday at 11 a.m. with the Rev. Dr. Dale E. Southorn officiating.  Private burial will be at Laurel Hill Cemetery.

     Memorials may be made to Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation, 130 W. Eighth St., Suite 216 Erie, PA 16501; or to the Harry K. Thomas, Esq. Scholarship Fund, c/o Edinboro University, Alumni House, 210 Meadville Street, Edinboro, PA  16444.


Donations may be made to:

Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation
130 W. Eighth St., Suite 216, Erie, PA 16501,
Tel: 814/480-5776
Web: Kanziuscancerresearch.org

Harry K. Thomas, Esq. Scholarship Fund % Edinboro University
210 Meadville St., Edinboro, PA 16444,


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