Yale University

In Memoriam

Stan Thomas

Stan Thomas
(1964 graduation

Stan Thomas died on April 15, 1995. Below are the following remembrances:


Stan Thomas was born in New York City, the son of a police lieutenant, and was educated at the Horace Mann School, where he was an outstanding student-athlete. At Yale, he played halfback on varsity football, 1961 - 1963, and belonged to DKE. He lived in Branford College and roomed with Dick Berk, Tony Lavely, and Brian Rapp. His favorite course at Yale was a creative-writing seminar taught by Robert Penn Warren.

After graduation, Stan campaigned and then worked for Mayor of New York City, John Lindsay. In 1967, he joined Time Inc., but left in 1969 to become Deputy Assistant Secretary of Health, Education & Welfare, appointed by President Nixon. He served under Secretary Elliot Richardson. In 1973, Stan became Assistant Secretary of HEW, serving under Caspar Weinberger.

Following an administration change, Stan joined ITT as Assistant Vice President of Marketing. In 1979, he returned to Time Inc., as the Vice President of Affiliate Relations for HBO. In the early 1990s, he rose to Senior Vice President of Time Warner Entertainment and President of the Sega Channel. Everyone who worked with Stan lauded him, not just for his business acumen but as a tireless campaigner for diversity and women's rights in the workplace. He mentored many people.

In his free time, Stan was an early adopter of technology, especially in music. He was also an avid sailor on his beloved sailboat, "The Sandpiper."

Stan developed non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and died at home in Tenafly, NJ. Rich Niglio delivered a eulogy at a memorial service held at The Yale Club of New York City on May 1, 1995.

He was survived by his wife, the former Lydia Lippincott Biddle, and four children by previous marriages: Kimberly, Kelly, Elizabeth, and Stanley III.


Eulogy by Rich Niglio '64

May 1, 1995

[The following eulogy was given by Rich Niglio at the memorial service for Stan Thomas at The Yale Club of New York City.]

My name is Rich Niglio and Stan was my best friend.  We met 35 years ago at the first freshman football practice at Yale University.  There was an instant connection between us that afternoon, a special chemistry and bond that lasted a lifetime.

We had a great deal in common.  We were two kids out of the ghetto — two young warriors — who somehow, defying all odds, found ourselves at Yale University, about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.  And for the next four years we dreamed about what that lifetime would be like.  As it turns out, we shared that adventure together, every twist and turn of it.  Our lives have been intimately intertwined with one another's. 

We shared the joys of love and marriage.  The miracle of each of our children's births: Kelly, Kim, Beth, and Chipper.

We shared the sadness and pain of divorce.  The ups and downs of our careers, the risks and uncertainties of many of life's major decisions.

While I know we are here to share our grief and to say our goodbyes to Stan, I have to tell you that I, for one, am not able to let him go.  I loved him very much, and I will keep him with me always.

His life is big and bright in my memory.  I can hear his voice resonant and clear in my head, as if he were standing right here next to me.  We still talk together, all the time.

My nickname in college was Pietro, and that's what Stan called me through the years.  He would say to me, "Pietro, you know, we've done it all.  We've done everything we were supposed to do."  And when he said that, he said it confidently and with a great deal of satisfaction.

I admired him from the start.  He had a style and dignity that separated him from everyone else, even the way he ran with the football.  There was a smoothness and fluidity about the way he ran that belied the tremendous power and energy that he generated.

He made it look effortless, natural.  The way he ran was truly an art.  It was Stan's art.  He did almost everything that way.  He was a very natural man, and I think it was that quality, that naturalness, that attracted many of us to him. 

I have so many memories.  I remember those early days at Yale.  Stan seemed to be breezing along, as usual, everything under control.  At the same time, I was having a pretty bad time, struggling awkwardly, getting further behind every day.  We were scholarship students, and in those days to get financial aid we had to work a few hours each day for the University at what they called "a bursary job."  My job was in the freshman dining hall, clearing out the garbage in the kitchen.  Not one of my favorite pastimes.  Stan's job was lounging by the swimming pool at Payne Whitney Gymnasium, handing out towels.  How he got that job I'll never know.  For 35 years I asked him that question.  He never would tell me.  He just laughed and laughed and insisted it was luck.

It wasn't luck.  It was an art.  It was Stan's art.

In the early years after Yale, we had a friendly competition going about who would have the biggest office.  Of course, in those days we thought that was pretty important stuff.  Well I never had a chance.  When I was in a cubicle over at J. Walter Thompson, Stan had a great office with a fabulous view on the executive floor of the Time-Life Building.

By the time I finally had a decent executive-type office, Stan got himself appointed Assistant Secretary of HEW by the President of the United States, and had an office complete with a private bathroom and shower.  I can still hear him laughing when I first saw that office in Washington, D.C.  I said to him, "Stan, this office is bigger than my house!"  He laughed so hard he had tears streaming down his cheeks.

I could always make Stan laugh.  The only problem, though, most of the times I made him laugh I wasn't even trying to be funny.  I didn't mind, though.  Within a few seconds we'd both be laughing.  We had a lot of laughs together.

Just a couple of years ago, I called Stan to tell him that Jack Cirie, who played in the backfield with us at Yale, had died suddenly.  About two weeks later, he called to tell me that he had recently received a large check from one of his investments, and had gone to the bank to pay off a loan.  When he got there, there was a long line at the teller's cage.  He told me, "I thought for a moment about Cirie, and decided, I don't want to pay off this loan."  He said, "Pietro, I turned around, walked out of that bank, went down the street, and bought a new Porsche instead."

Stan had enormous spirit, and he lived life to the fullest.

As you all know, Stan was a pretty special guy.  Everyone liked him.  He was a wonderful son, wasn't he Mom?  And he was a great husband, wasn't he Lydia?  And he was the best friend anyone could ever have.  I am here to attest to that.

He was always there to support me when I needed it.  Hardly a week ever passed that we didn't speak to one another at least once or twice.  He used to say to me, "Pietro, I love you."  And he often told me that I had become the brother he wished he had when he was growing up.

The way I most like to remember Stan is sailing.  I introduced him to sailing many years ago, and, oh my, how he loved it!  We sailed together on San Francisco Bay, on Long Island Sound, and on the Caribbean Sea.

I can see him now, behind the helm of his beloved sailboat, "The Sandpiper," the proud captain of his ship. He would say to me, "Pietro, you know, we've done it all.  We've done everything we were supposed to do.  What we should do now is go sailing."

Stanley, I'm saying to you now, "You did it all. You did everything you were supposed to do. And you did it well.  And now you are free, buddy.  Free at last.  Free at last."

"So, sail off now, Stan.  I wish you fair winds, my friend."

"Bon voyage, pal."

"I love you."


Remembrance by Stanley B. "Chip" Thomas III, Stan's son

August 30, 2013

Imagine a grown man returning to a resort in the Caribbean after a nice dinner out with his family. He is not quite 6 feet tall, with a broad chest and shoulders. Dressed in khaki slacks, a Lacoste polo shirt, and loafers, he looks poised and content. He and his family are walking past their condo's private pool. Suddenly, the man grabs his son, smiles, jumps into the pool, and screams at the top of his lungs. After a moment of shock, the son laughs hysterically. A yearly father/son tradition is born — and the son will remember the moment for the rest of his life.

My father was Stan Thomas Jr., a member of the Class of 1964. Though he lived a very full life, he left us much too early, at the age of 52. His legacy lives on and I look forward to passing down his stories here and in the future.

Some of my earliest memories with him involve sports, like learning to switch-hit in baseball in his backyard. He greatly enjoyed watching me hit and steal bases in Little League. I was determined to become a successful athlete as he had (playing the position of halfback on Yale's football team). And more than anything, I wanted to beat him at something — anything! I suppose his competitive nature was passed down to the next generation. We would play one-on-one basketball at the courts in Tenafly, New Jersey, where we lived, or race in the park on the Palisades, but he would always beat me. After the competition he would buy me a soda and I would often ask him, "Dad, how come you never let me win? I'm your son after all!" He'd smile and reply, "When you honestly beat me, you'll know it was real and that you earned it." I often look back at those games, and I think he would have been tickled when I did finally beat him. We never got to have that experience, but I'm certain I could beat him now!

When my parents divorced, my dad stayed in the same town so that he could be close to us. One night while sleeping over at his house, there was a blizzard, and school was cancelled for the next three consecutive days. Each morning, I asked if a friend could come over to play but my father refused. I told him he was keeping me hostage and he laughed out loud. I now know he merely wanted a few days of quality time with his son.

In 2009, my godfather (and my dad's close friend and Yale classmate) Tony Lavely took me to their class's 45th Yale reunion. I met many of their classmates that weekend and each time I'd introduce myself someone would say, "You're Stan Thomas' son? Man do I have a great story about your dad." I learned more about him in that short weekend than I ever had before. Having a clearer vision of who my father was has helped to put me at peace with his death.

Even though I am not a Yale alumnus (I graduated from the University of Michigan in 2003), I have been warmly embraced by the Yale community. I am often invited to the monthly Class of '64 lunches at the Yale Club in Manhattan, and I try to go as often as I can. Each time, without fail, brings forth new stories of my father.

While I never got to beat him in a sport or go through many of the other traditional father-son coming-of-age experiences, he still teaches me lessons most days. My memories, combined with the stories I have heard from his Yale classmates, paint a beautiful picture of my father. I will cherish and pass on these stories and memories as long as I can.


Remembrance by Tony Lavely '64

September 3, 2002

On Sunday, September 1st, Rich Niglio and I had the great pleasure of attending the wedding of Beth Thomas, the daughter of our classmate and teammate, Stan Thomas. She married Brian Cohen at a beautiful ceremony in The Plaza Hotel, New York City. Beth was a beautiful bride, and I know Stan would have been very proud. Beth is a fashion editor at Oprah magazine. I'm also pleased to report that his son, Stanley B. Thomas, III ("Chip") is an outstanding lacrosse player at the University of Michigan. Stan was taken from us far too early, but his legacy memorializes his charm and talent.