Pastor Fred Thomas, who served on the Greenville City Council and Planning and Zoning Commission, has died after falling ill to COVID-19.
Family members announced Thomas’ passing Wednesday morning on his Facebook page, where his battle with the virus had been chronicled.
“This was not our will or desire, but it is the will of God in which we accept,” said the statement issued by Thomas’ son Au’mon Wyatt and wife Desiree Wyatt Thomas. “Please pray for my family and I as we go through this trying time of loss. All will be well and we will make it through this as he would have wanted us to.”
Funeral arrangements were pending as of press time Wednesday.
Thomas had moved to McKinney where he was renowned as a Christian comedian and had taped an interview with talk show host Rickey Smiley on Dec. 9, the day before he was hospitalized with COVID-19.
Born in Greenville, Thomas served on Place 6 on the city council in 2006-08. He started his professional career as a promotions director for Dallas-based Myriad Records. During the summer months, Thomas would volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club of Northeast Texas. In 2000, Thomas was hired as the marketing director for the club.
“The Boys and Girls Club was one of the enriching experiences in my life,” Thomas said. “The experience was priceless.”
During his tenure with the club, Thomas attended the Strom Thurmond Advanced Leadership Institute at Clemson University.
A member of the Class of 1992, Thomas felt that his journey while living in Greenville has helped prepare him for the task of being a council member.
“Greenville has been good to me and my family,” Thomas said. “My parents are both deceased but they loved this town and the richness that it beheld.”
Thomas had also served as the Minister of Music for the Shiloh Church of God in Christ and had been a licensed minister for more than two decades.
Thomas ran for the council after two terms on the Planning and Zoning Commission. While seeking the office of council member, Thomas said he was driven to the cause of helping to make Greenville the best place it can be for all people.
“In regards to Place 6 neighborhood preservation and protection, fiscal responsibility, environmental and open space preservation, and preserving and enhancing our downtown are major concerns of mine,” Thomas said. “District 6 has a rich history within our community in regards to historic homes, and famous faces. Also with the large amount of city and school facilities and churches, people from across district lines make their home in District 6, so it is an important piece of the puzzle.”
During his council campaign, Thomas appeared during a meeting and said he thinks Greenville has experienced limited growth, in part, because of its reputation in other parts of the country.
“I believe one significant reason is the cloud of unforgiveness which hovers over Greenville,” Thomas said. “When you go online to do a detailed study of Greenville, you will come across numerous articles from across the country that depict Greenville as a racist community.”
Thomas said many people from other areas of the United States identify Greenville by the infamous “Blackest Land”, “Whitest People” sign which used to hang above Lee Street. He cited recent articles referring to the sign and to the story of a black man murdered on the courthouse square in 1908.
“Although these events are in Greenville’s past, the negative connotations of their intent still play today,” Thomas said, holding copies of postcards commemorating both occasions which are available for sale on the Internet.
On his Facebook page, Thomas indicated he is pastor and comedian at Laugh Out Loud Church. He also served as pastor and founder of the Word of Faith Church in McKinney and was the president and founder of Heart to Soul Evangelistic Outreaches Ministries.