A note of sadness…
It is with deep regret and profound sadness that we inform you of the passing of David W. Thomas, husband of Betty Stangl Thomas and engineer and plant superintendent for Stangl Pottery Company.  Dave was hospitable and generous, and was always more than happy to recount his many years at Stangl Pottery.  He enthusiastically provided numerous interviews recounting his fascinating career.  The generous sharing of his Stangl Pottery experiences have been cherished by Stangl collectors for many years, and have added depth and meaning to many personal collections.  His help was invaluable to our research for the Hill-Fulper-Stangl Potteries Museum and the books Collectors Encyclopedia of Stangl Dinnerware and Collectors Encyclopedia of Stangl Artware, Lamps & Birds.  Dave was a cherished friend, and will be sorely missed.  The following obituary appeared in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune on January 4, 2004:

  David Woodside Thomas Sr.
David Woodside Thomas Sr., 87, Sarasota and East Orange, NJ, died Jan. 1, 2004, at home in Sarasota.  He was born Nov. 12, 1916, in East Orange and wintered in Sarasota for 22 years.  He retired in 1982 from the Engelhard Mineral and Chemical Co, Menlo Park, NJ. He was a life member of the American Ceramic Society.  He had a ceramic consulting business and owned Thomas Tile Company.  He received a degree in ceramic engineering from Alfred University in New York.  During World War II, he was with the Army Air forces Eighth Air Force, serving in England, France, Italy and Africa, and retired as a major.  He was a member of Volunteers in Technical Assistance and the International Executive Service Corps and served in Turkey, El Salvador and the Caribbean. He was a member of the Sarasota Engineers and Retired Officers Club and Church of the Palms.  Survivors include his wife of 61 years, Betty (Stangl); daughters Roxanne Edwards of Sarasota and Marjory Barnhart of Jacksonville; a son, David Jr. of Santa Rosa Beach; eight grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.  Services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Church of the Palms.  Wiegand Brothers Funeral Home is in charge.  Memorial Donations may be made to Hospice of Southwest Florida, 5955 Rand Blvd., Sarasota, FL  34238

David Thomas was very instrumental to the success of Stangl Pottery during his employment there.  Following is an excerpt from the Dave and Betty Thomas biography appearing in the Collector’s Encyclopedia of Stangl Artware, Lamps and Birds:

David W. Thomas met and courted Betty Stangl while they both were ceramics majors at Alfred University.  After graduating in 1940 with a ceramic engineering degree, Dave worked in the refractory industry and then enlisted in the Flying Cadets during World War II.  He and Betty were married in Glendale California in May 1942 prior to his shipping out.

Dave Thomas portraying St. Patrick, patron saint of ceramic engineers, during Alfred University’s “St. Pat’s” festival in 1940.  Courtesy of Kay Hackett.

Dave and Betty Thomas on their wedding day in 1942.  Courtesy of Betty Stangl Thomas.

  Martin Stangl hired Dave Thomas as ceramic engineer following World War II.  Dave was engineer from 1945 until 1950 when Heinrich Below left Stangl Pottery to found Pennsbury Pottery.  Dave was then promoted to plant superintendent.  Dave instituted many improvements at Stangl Pottery, such as conveyors to expedite ware handling, the spraying of engobe to create a smooth, bright finish, improved durable clay bodies and developed a number of glazes and artware lines.  Dave Thomas left Stangl Pottery in 1956 to purchase Ticer Pottery in Ohio and ultimately became a well-respected ceramics consultant to such firms as International Chemicals.  The Thomas’ eventually retired to Florida where Dave launched Thomas Tiles, Inc. and Betty enjoys golf and raising prize-winning roses.