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For The Lancaster News
A former pastor of First Presbyterian church, and former chaplain at Springs Memorial Hospital, died Thursday, Oct. 4, at the age of 84.
Rev. Samuel N. Thomas made Lancaster his home in 1963, when he began pastoring First Presbyterian Church. The Pink Hill, N.C., native attended Presbyterian Junior College and then Davidson College before continuing his studies at Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, VA. He pastored his first church in 1952, and pastored two more churches afterward before coming to First Presbyterian Church in Lancaster. Thomas remained pastor of the church for 17 years, and in 1979, he became the first full-time chaplain at Springs Memorial Hospital, a position he held for five years.
“Springs Memorial Hospital has very fond memories of Rev. Thomas,” said Janice Dabney, Interim CEO of Springs. “He was available upon request to assist patients and their families for spiritual needs and also provided counseling for hospital employees. If I remember correctly, I think he even married a few hospital employees in the chapel during his employment with us.”
Thomas’ service to the community expanded beyond the borders of the church and the hospital. He was a part-time instructor in religion at the University of South Carolina Lancaster campus, and served on the Lancaster County Government Study Committee. He also served on the Lancaster County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission and the Tri-County Mental Health Board. Thomas also served on the Queens College Presidential Scholarship Committee.
Thomas was a sports enthusiast who followed the sports programs of Davidson College, Lancaster High School, and Young Harris College. He was an Atlanta Braves fan and enjoyed following Lexington (SC) High School basketball.
“Sam was loved by everyone here and his pleasant demeanor and loving spirit was always appreciated,” Dabney said. “He will be greatly missed.”
A celebration of life service will be held for Thomas on Monday, Oct. 8 at 4 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church in Lancaster. Rev. Dr. R. Shane Owens and Rev. Dr. Ernie Thompson will be officiating the service.