The Robert E. Thomas Memorial Fisheries Fund was established by the Thomas Family and the Nebraska Chapter of the American Fisheries Society with the University of Nebraska Foundation on May 10, 2001. The fund shall be managed by the Nebraska Chapter AFS for the benefit of fisheries students. Until such time as the principal reaches $10,000, all net income shall be reinvested with the principal of the fund. After the principal reaches $10,000, the fund shall be used annually or more frequently for any permissible charitable purpose. The Chapter shall increase the fund through additional gifts and contribution thereto, but all contributions are subject to the terms and conditions of the agreement.
Nebraska recently lost one of it’s more dedicated and professional fishery resource scientists. Bob Thomas will be remembered for many things pertaining with the management of our sport fishing resources, which spanned a half of a century. He began his career in the sandhills district as an area fisheries management biologist over fifty years ago and soon transferred to the area supervisor of the Southwest district, a post he held until 1965. Departmental reorganization at that time provided for Bob to assume the role of statewide management supervisor until he became the second Fisheries Division Chief of Nebraska when Glen Foster retired.
Many of us will remember being a part of the fisheries division during Bob’s tenure as our co-worker and/or our ever gentlemanly leader. I can tell you that Bob never had a disparaging word for or with any of the fisheries professionals during his tenure in the Nebraska Game and Parks Department. He was equally supportive of every member of the team whether they are the temporary creel clerks, hatchery culturists, or the senior research biologist. He was just a good guy and most important to the providing the basis of the great resources which we enjoy today. His quiet ways could never be construed to be easy going, but rather he possessed a demeanor, which conveyed the pursuit of excellence from each member of his staff. He expected the very best from each of our individual abilities. His stewardship ethic may be equaled but will not be exceeded.
Bob’s love of the fisheries resource and professionalism was very evident by his continuing participation in our AFS chapter actions. Most recently he served as the chapter president and could always be counted on to express the most informed views of the society in the political issues of the day. We all could profit by following in the ways and actions of Bob’s approach the aquatic resources of our state and country.
I never had a better teacher. -Wes Sheets
1948-1950 Attended South Dakota State University
1954-1956 Attended Colorado State University
June 1956 Earned B.S. degree from Colorado State University
June 1956 Hired as fisheries biologist for Nebraska Game, Forestation and Parks
June 1960 Promoted to Assistant Project Leader
June 1967 Promoted to Assistant Chief
July 1975 Promoted to Fisheries Division Chief
1980-1981 President of the AFS Fisheries Administrators Section
August 1986 Retired from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
1999-2000 President of the Nebraska Chapter of the American Fisheries Society