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Clarence "Motts" Thomas, Former Pomona Dean and Football Coach, Has Died

Clarence "Motts" Thomas, 1945-2011

Clarence "Motts" Thomas, 1945-2011

Clarence “Motts” Thomas, a former Pomona College associate dean of students and football coach, died in Pomona on February 20, 2011. His memorial service was held on March 19 at Bridges Hall of Music.

A graduate of Morgan State University, where he was the starting center of one of the most successful teams in the college’s history, Thomas had a master’s equivalency from the University of Maryland. He began his career coaching high school football followed by college football at Bowie State College, Williams, and Morgan State before coming to Pomona College in 1982 as football coach and assistant professor of physical education.

In 1992, Thomas expanded his portfolio to serve as Pomona’s dean of campus life/associate dean of students, while for a time continuing to coach football. After a one-year absence to serve as Dean of Students at Laurence University, he was asked to return as director of community and multicultural programs. In the latter capacity, he laid the foundations of Pomona’s flourishing outreach efforts.

When Thomas retired in 2006, former President Peter Stanley said, “With little fanfare, Motts identified and built relationships with a variety of really substantial programs, especially America Reads and College Bound, and made Pomona their valued ally in motivating and equipping disadvantaged young people to succeed in high school and find their way to four-year colleges.” Thomas was also a founding member and director of the Summer Scholars Enrichment Program, now PAYS, which began in 2003. PAYS has graduated six classes, setting approximately 180 students firmly on the college path.

During his Pomona years, Thomas kept honing his coaching skills, coaching American football in Helsinki and Kuopio, Finland, during summers from 1986-92; completing a coaching internship with the Los Angeles Raiders in 1992; and serving as a football official, rising from youth leagues to the MAC – Mid-Atlantic Conference.

As both a coach and associate dean of students, Thomas made a difference in hundreds of lives modeling kindness, teaching leadership and always being ready to encourage others.

For those who would like to do something in his honor, the family listed the following organizations as potential recipients for gifts of time, attention, money or resources: The Frederick County Hall of Fame (Frederick, MD), the Morgan State University Clarence “Motts” Thomas Memorial Fund (Baltimore, MD), the Williams College Eye Care Project (with “Eye Care Nicaragua” on the memo line); the Pomona College Draper Center for Community Partnerships, and the Bandon (Oregon) Community Pool Project.