By Moises Castro, Editor-in-Chief

Sam Houston alumnus Justin Chapa said former teacher Judy Thomas taught him what it means to be a Sam Houston Texan and that she taught with drive and dedication.

“Mrs. Thomas used government not only as a way to teach us about the way that government works, but we as citizens are supposed to interact with the government around us and question the things that are happening around us,” Chapa said. “Mrs. Thomas lived a life so full, she has left a legacy so strong and she’s taught lessons that are so important that when I and others sing ‘We’ll remember thee’ we’ll remember Sam Houston and we’ll also remember Judy Thomas.”

Sam Houston hosted a celebration of life event in the Auditorium for Thomas. She graduated in 1965 as part of the SHHS charter class and served as an SHHS special education and social studies teacher for 39 years.

Thomas died from complications of cancer on Jan. 5 at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital. She was 71.

Thomas’ best friend Sherry French Chaney said she is a better person because she met Thomas. Thomas lived SHHS, Chaney said.

“Judy never let the cancer define her it slowed her down, but it certainly didn’t define her,” she said. “She continued to look out for others, especially Jamie. Judy lived an amazing life in service of others she was an educator all of her life and with the donation of her remains she is still teaching a new generation of doctors at UT Southwestern.”

Arlington ISD Superintendent Dr. Marcelo Cavazos said he met Thomas when he first came to AISD and that everyone knew her and who she was. He fondly joked she was always teaching everyone lessons whether they wanted to learn them or not. If there was anything someone wanted to understand they would go to Thomas, he said.

“Judy lives in this school and her spirit and what she’s done for students will live forever,” Cavazos said. “We can point to two important lessons from Judy. The courage to never give up on students and the love to always always be their educator.”

Thomas was passionate about making sure students could afford college. Memorial scholarship donations may be made to the Sam Houston High School Alumni Association at SHHStexans.org/donate in her memory.

Scholarships will be awarded at the SHHS Senior Award Ceremony in May 2019.

Moises Castro

[email protected]