We are sad to report that Richard Thomas, AAA Membership Manager, passed away Tuesday April 1, 2014. Richard served as our membership manager for 14 years, since joining AAA staff on March 31, 2000. He was 63.
Richard was the face of our Annual Meeting Career Center (previously named the Placement Center) for employers and job candidates. He developed the AAA online Career Center that is a valuable resource of anthropology job ads for both employers and job seekers. His work on the career center was something he was proud of and enjoyed doing.
Richard also was instrumental in streamlining the Membership Services Department over the years as we moved along with the rest of the world from the heavily paper driven processes to the cloud.
Richard was the voice of calm during our annual mayhem of the Annual Meeting abstract submission deadline, with around 5,000 individuals submitting papers and sessions, many during the last 48 hours before the deadline. He spent hours on the phone helping members, and always with a smile. One staff remarked about his having “the patience of Job” one year just before deadline when he fielded call after call needing assistance to register or help putting an abstract into the system. Richard whispered, “They’re all my best friends.”
Richard was particularly proud of his “Save the Dates” reminder postcards for our annual meeting and the “Leave your mark. Major in Anthropology” footprint poster distributed to anthropology departments far and wide.
Richard also worked with numerous committees and groups. At various times over the years he staffed the Association Operations Committee, the Committee for Human Rights, the Student Assembly and most recently the Education Task Force. He was also involved with the formalization of AAA interest groups.
Richard graduated from Brigham Young University summa cum laude with a BA in history. Prior to working for AAA he worked at the National Society of Professional Engineers and the Nature Conservancy. Richard had a love for the west coast and talked often of returning to California for his golden years.
Richard is survived by a partner of 36 years and two sisters. He will be remembered fondly by staff for his love of history and dry wit.