George Roscoe “Pop” Thomas, co-founder of Thomas Brothers Lumber Company and a “true gem” of Forsyth County, passed away Wednesday at age 97.
Thomas was an active member of the of the Forsyth County Steam Engine Association, which holds a steam engine and tractor show at the Cumming Fairgrounds each fall.
He was also very involved in the Thomas-Mashburn Steam Engine Parade, which his family began 55 years ago. The parade is held every Fourth of July.
Dave Horton, director of the Cumming Fairgrounds, said Thomas would be missed at both events.
“He was one of the county’s true, true gems,” Horton said. “He was a wealth of information and knowledge.”
Richard Webb, a lifelong Forsyth resident and distant relative, said Thomas was an inspiration to everyone involved in the Steam Engine Association.
“My great grandpa was his uncle,” Webb said. “That’s really distant, but still we were closer than I am to some of my close relatives because we always had that common interest of the steam engines.”
Both Webb and Horton said Thomas was generous in sharing his knowledge of the century-old technology.
“He was one of the founding fathers of the steam engine, tractor guys here in the county,” Horton said. “He was always the one that all of the younger guys coming up … went to for advice on engines and everything else.”
Webb added that Thomas was probably the last living individual involved with the parade each year who actually “used [the steam engines] to make a living growing up.”
“Roscoe took time out to show everybody and didn’t begrudge anybody that,” he said. “That’s a big loss. You can’t fill that hole.”
Webb also complimented Thomas’ straight-forward approach in dealing with others.
“He was always quick to laugh and smile, but he could be contrary too,” he said. “You didn’t ever wonder where you stood with him. It was always clear. He’d blast you out and then he’d smile at you.
“He was just a good ol’ guy.”
Webb said Thomas also cared deeply for his family, noting that the parade each year also served as a reunion.
“He liked seeing all the family and friends and kids,” Webb said. “All the kids loved him.”
According to his obituary, Thomas was also a member of Antioch Baptist Church and of Mt. Zion Lodge No. 316.
Funeral services are set for 2 this afternoon at Ingram Funeral Home Chapel with interment to follow at Sawnee View Memorial Gardens.
The family will receive friends from 11 a.m. until the hour of service.