Kingsport, Tennessee, native Raymond Thomas is the epitome of a successful businessman. His path from graduation at East Tennessee State College to last year's retirement as vice president of Coca-Cola USA would appear to be a carefully executed career planner's design. While working toward his bachelor of science degree at ETSC, he served as president of Lambda Chi Alpha and was involved in the International Educational Foundation. He earned his bachelor's degree in 1959. Thomas also completed graduate courses at Harvard Business School.
After completing military service, Mr. Thomas joined The Coca-Cola Company in 1961 as district manager in Alabama. Soon, he was selected for the company's Executive Management Training Program and transferred to Boston.
As Mr. Thomas rose through the ranks, he held assignments in Salt Lake City, Denver, Chicago, and New York. In 1981, he was appointed vice president and moved to the company's Atlanta headquarters. He retired as vice president in 1995.
Over the years, he has remained an active supporter of ETSU. He has served on the National Alumni Association board of directors for eight years, and is a past president of the NAA Board. In addition, he is on the board of advisors for the ETSU College of Business and serves on the advisory board for the Eastman Center for Nutrition Research, which is a joint effort of Eastman Chemical Company, the James H. Quillen College of Medicine at ETSU, and the National Research Council of Canada. He is a member of the Committee of 1000, the Distinguished President's Trust, Buc Connection, and the ETSU Foundation.
Mr. Thomas remains active in a number of civic and community organizations, He and his wife, the former Janie May Jones, who earned her bachelor's degree in home economics from ETSC in 1959, reside in Atlanta, Their son, Mark, earned his bachelor's degree in marketing from ETSU in 1984 and now practices law in Atlanta.