ACM SIGGRAPH mourns the loss of Jim Thomas
Dave Kasik and Amitabh Varshney pay tribute to their friend and colleague.
We are very sad to inform you that Jim Thomas, our visionary colleague and outstanding leader, passed away early Saturday morning due to complications from a brain tumor. He is survived by his wife, Berta, and two daughters Michelle and Lynn.
Jim's career started at General Motor Research in 1971 after graduate work at Washington State University.
He was instrumental in SIGGRAPH's growth and success. His formal involvement included papers chair in 1980, conference co-chair in 1987, and ACM/SIGGRAPH chair from 1989-1992. Informally, Jim worked tirelessly to establish user interface software as a formal computer science topic. With ACM/SIGGRAPH's support, he organized a series of workshops on Graphical Input Interaction Techniques (GIIT) from 1980 through 1983. The workshops were instrumental in formalizing user interface mangement systems and led to the expansion of ACM/SIGCHI and the UIST conferences.
Since 2002 Jim did more to invigorate the field of Visual Analytics than anyone else. His courage and visionary leadership to establish Visual Analytics and to champion worldwide government and industry support was truly inspiring and unprecedented. These efforts expanded the scope of IEEE Vis Week (Jim was conference chair in 2003) to include the Visual Analytics Science and Technology symposium.
Jim has dozens of technical publications to his credit, including editor (with Kris Cook) of Illuminating the Path, the Visual Analytics research agenda. Among other awards, he received the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation Homeland Security award in 2009 and was named a AAAS Fellow in 2007.
He was always full of life, energy, and love. We shall all deeply miss him.
His wife Berta is asking that you make donations in Jim’s name in lieu of flowers . She recommends that you choose your favorite charity with an emphasis on heart disease research, humane treatment for people and animals, and education. Berta’s address is:
1939 Peachtree Ln
Richland, WA 99352-7620