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Curtis Thomas

Curtis Thomas may be gone, but his legacy of helping less fortunate adolescents will not soon be forgotten. Campus Magnet’s longtime assistant basketball coach and part-time school teacher and mentor to the youth of southeast Queens passed away June 22 at the age of 66 after a lengthy bout with colon cancer.
“There wasn’t a kid he didn’t believe he could save,” Campus Magnet basketball coach Charles Granby said. “He’d do anything for a kid. He was a very kind man, especially for children.”
It wasn’t uncommon for his home to be filled with hungry youngsters. Thomas, known as “Mr. T” in the neighborhood, had an open door policy. “He was always promoting activities for adolescents, giving them other alternatives than the streets,” his oldest son, Charles, said. “He focused mainly on kids that were underprivileged, kids that were from broken homes.”
When Granby took over the basketball program in 1969 at Campus Magnet, then known as Andrew Jackson, he met Thomas, a volunteer with the Hollis Biddies basketball program. They were together until 1980, when Thomas left for the University of Massachusetts to gain his Masters Degree in education.
In 2002 his son Evan decided he wanted to play for his father’s old school, but Granby wouldn’t allow it unless Thomas was there. “I said if your son comes, you have to come back also,” Granby recalled fondly.
He did, and was on the sideline when the Bulldogs won the Queens Borough championship in March of 2006. Thomas was an extremely strict coach, always barking out instructions for his players and hammering home life lessons. “He was a very demanding person coaching the kids, no nonsense,” Granby said. “That was the way he was. It was constructive criticism.”
A graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School in Brooklyn, Thomas served time in the paratroopers, and spent much of his life as an adult in South Jamaica before moving to Elmont, Long Island later in life.
He is survived by his wife Eunice; four sons, Charles, Curtis, Evan and Devon; grandchildren Coy, Tennille, Cairo, Elijah, Nigel, Elijah, Harmony, Tamaqua, Monique, Naomi, Kyle, Lamont and Nicole.
By Zachary Braziller

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