Bill Thomas, beloved Heights music teacher, dies
Bill Thomas, 68, died March 25 at Holly Hill Nursing Home in Newbury Township, 17 years after a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease.
Thomas led the Heights Singers and other vocal music groups at Heights High for 30 years. He was operations manager at Cain Park and director of the park’s Arts Festival. His high musical standards and ability to teach young people life lessons influenced many former students and colleagues.
Rajiv Joseph, Broadway playwright and Heights alum ('91), said, "Bill was the finest educator I've ever known."
Sandra Dixon, the current director of the Heights High Gospel Choir (’81), said Bill was an expert at leading music tours. "I learned how to run a tour by watching Bill," she said.
Thomas was born in New Brighton, Pa. He earned a bachelor's degree at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's at Pennsylvania State University. In 1968, he moved to Cleveland Heights to direct the girls glee club and men's chorus at the high school. He later merged the groups to create the Heights Singers.
Thomas also directed music at Grace Lutheran Church. He is survived by his wife, the former Jane Monroe, three children and five grandchildren survive.
Joy Henderson is the parent/community liaison for Heights High.