Ohio University

Ohio University mourns the death of Avionics Engineering Center program engineer

Author: Anna Hartenbach

The Russ College of Engineering and Technology and greater Ohio University community mourns the death of Avionics Engineering Center Program Engineer Robert James “Rob” Thomas, Jr., BSEE ’87, MS ’93.

The 52-year-old resident of Albany, Ohio, died at his home on Oct. 15, following a courageous battle with cancer. He had worked in the Russ College since June 1994.

Mike DiBenedetto, former Avionics Engineering Center director, said Thomas was a great colleague, friend and person.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to his family, friends and colleagues during this sorrowful time,” DiBenedetto said. “I have been blessed to know Rob personally and professionally for nearly three decades. He was a great husband and father, and a gifted and dedicated engineer whose talents benefited Avionics greatly. Most of all, I will miss our friendship.”

Thomas was the lead engineer for many flight test and data collection system projects, including developments for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“Rob was an excellent engineer who was critical in our efforts to help the FAA with their implementation of the next generation air traffic monitoring and control,” said David Juedes, chair of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science chair. “He will be greatly missed in the Avionics Engineering Center and School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.”

Thomas loved drones, photography, and gardening. He was born in Wheeling, West Virginia, on May 26, 1965. He is survived by his wife, Mary Elizabeth Law Thomas; his children, Rachel Elizabeth Thomas, Christian Alan Thomas, Isabel Clare Thomas and John Paul Thomas; his mother, Jeannine M. Lombardi Thomas; one sister, Gina M. (Anthony) Iosue; one brother, Matthew A. Thomas; his mother and father-in-law, Myron and Cynthia Law; and several nieces and nephews.

Robert Thomas