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James Edward Thomas was born on October 18, 1944, in Darlington, South Carolina. James was the first born of the two children of Willie Thomas and Cleola Sawyer Thomas, and had two additional brothers.
James was educated in the Darlington County School System, graduating in 1962 from Mayo High School. It was at Mayo where James fell in love with basketball as Mayo’s star player. His style of playing emulated Boston Celtics legend Bob Cousy so much that it garnered James the nickname “Cousy” during his playing days at Mayo.
After Mayo, Cousy moved on to Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he majored in finance and accounting. He also shined on the basketball court – this time as a Johnson C. Smith Golden Bull. After graduating cum laude in 1966, Cousy was commissioned in the United States Army. Honorably, he completed his service in 1973.
In 1973, James moved to New York City where he launched his career in banking. That year, he entered into the management trainee program at Manufacturers Hanover Trust (MHT) Bank, which eventually became JP Morgan Chase. In the following years he spent at MHT, he served as bank president at several MHT branches throughout New York City. In the course of his career, Cousy earned a master's degree from New York University and a doctorate from Columbia University.
In 1971, Cousy married Joan Grant and, to that union, his only son, James Edward Thomas II was born in 1973. He planted roots in Queens and then moved to Flushing, NY, where he lived for 50 years and from where he entered eternal rest on March 22, 2022.
Cousy was preceded in death by both of his parents and his brother Frank Thomas. He leaves to celebrate his life and cherish his memory his son James (Jennifer) of Westchester, NY, and his grandchildren Jessica, James III (“JT”), Jonathan, and Joliene; brother Lee Thomas (Linda) of Riverside, CA; sister Shirley L. Thomas; and nieces Jenelle Phillips (Mike) of Memphis, TN, LayOntra Thomas of Darlington, SC, Denise Brown and Stephanie Winters both of Riverside, CA; as well as many extended family members, old friends, and former teammates.
A Veteran’s Honor Guard Committal Service will be held Thursday, June 30, 2022 , 1pm at the Florence National Cemetery, 803 E National Cemetery Rd, Florence, SC 29506