Mark Thomas Jr., J.D. ’56, a judge and keen historian of the local legal community, died July 18, 2010 of complications from prostate cancer. He was 80. Thomas was appointed in January 1975 to the Sunnyvale-upertino district municipal court bench by Gov. Ronald Reagan and elevated to the superior court bench in 1983 by Gov. George Deukmejian. He retired from the bench in 1991 and went to work for JAMS in San Jose in 1995. Thomas wrote at least 11 historical books and dozens of articles. He delved into topics as varied as the history of the San Benito County courts, the legal history of Santa Cruz County, and Santa Clara University School of Law . This year, he wrote the history of the Santa Clara County Law Library and the Santa Clara County Legal Secretaries Association, and contributed to a book about late Santa Clara Judge Wayne Kanemoto.  Over the years, Thomas also served on the history committee of the California Judges Association.  Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Paul Bernal described Thomas’ ideas at court and in historical society meetings as practical and full of fun.  Besides being a "smart, fair jurist," Bernal wrote in an e-mail, Thomas was a memorable judge for "his warmth that was evident in every court hearing, his humor, which was quick and welcoming, and his encyclopedic knowledge of all things historic."  Born in San Jose in 1930, Thomas graduated from Stanford University in 1951 and served as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Korean War. Out of Santa Clara Law in 1956, he started his own personal injury and family law practice, Thomas, James & Pendleton.  Three weeks ago, Thomas recorded the oral history of Gerald Uelmen, Santa Clara law professor and former dean, in preparation for the school’s 100th anniversary.  "He really had a passion for history," Uelmen said. "We’re going to miss him. He was really a presence that we greatly treasured."  As recently as last week, Thomas was signing copies of his history of the law school for his alma mater, said his daughter, Eileen Thomas-Werner.  Yet to be published is Thomas’ last book, "Memoirs of a Santa Clara County Judge."  He’s survived by his wife Marjolie; his four children, Colleen, Eileen, Steve, and Ward; and seven grandchildren.

08 Nov 2018