Larry Thomas, who helped build Baker High into a football powerhouse in the 1970s and 1980s as an assistant coach and spent eight successful seasons as head coach, died Sunday.
Thomas, 79, compiled a 64-18 record from 1986-1993 after 19 years as an assistant coach for the Buffaloes. Thomas’ son, Jay, is a former Baker player who is now Northwestern State's football coach.
Visitation is from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Baker's First Baptist Church. There will be visitation from 9 a.m. until services start at 11 a.m. Wednesday also at Baker's First Baptist Church.
“He was a great husband to our mom and a great dad to us who just happened to be a football coach,” Jay Thomas said. “As a person, he was very low key. It was the same at home and on the field. He was a great coach, and he believed in hard work.”
Thomas served as dean of students at Baker for six more years after he retired from coaching. A native of Waynesboro, Mississippi, Thomas played football at Jones County Junior College and McNeese State. He was head coach at Mississippi-based Kosciusko High before coming to Baker in 1966 as an assistant coach.
“We met in some big games,” former Catholic High coach Dale Weiner said. “In my estimation, Larry Thomas was the one of the classiest individuals you’ll ever meet in the coaching profession. He was just a great person, coach, husband and father. His son, Jay, is cut from that same cloth. This is a big loss for the coaching profession.”
McKinley coach Ken Hilton and Livonia coach Marc Brown, both former Baker players, shared their memories.
“Not many freshmen got to dress out at Baker in those days and I still remember how excited I was when coach Thomas, the head coach, told me I would,” McKinley High coach Ken Hilton said. “He was a great coach, but he was an even better person. The basic things he taught us about working to achieve your goals I use today.”
Brown, echoed Hilton’s sentiments.
“Football is a game with so much emotion and pressure,” Brown said. “I was a quarterback, and we talked about handling those things. I don’t ever remember hearing coach Thomas curse. He handled all that. He was a great man, a great role model.”