Chauncey S. Thomas

Civic Activist

Chauncey S. Thomas, 84, a lifelong Washington resident who was a property manager and real estate investor and was active in community, volunteer, political and church groups, died of emphysema June 3 at Howard University Hospital.

Mr. Thomas, who graduated from Cardozo High School and in 1940 from the Robert H. Terrell law school, worked in the family business, Chick's restaurant, near Seventh and I streets NW, until it was burned in the 1968 riots.

After that, he devoted most of his time to community work. He served on the boards of directors of the Cardozo Heights Association for Neighborhood Growth and Enrichment (CHANGE) and the United Planning Organization. He devoted much of his time with these groups to building housing in the Columbia Road NW area.

He also had been active in the Emergency Committee on Transportation, working with such figures as Sammy Abbot to oppose freeway construction projects and for increased funding for such projects as the Metro subway system. Mr. Thomas lobbied to expand Metro along the 14th Street corridor.

He was a founder of the D.C. Statehood Party and had worked in various campaigns for Julius Hobson and Charlene Drew Jarvis. In the mid-1970s, as president of the People's Organization Working for Economic Reform (POWER), he worked to establish Harambee House.

Mr. Thomas joined the Episcopal Church of St. Stephen and the Incarnation in the 1950s. Over the years, he served on various church committees and was a member of the United Neighbors of the Church. He also had been a block president and had served on the 1987 search committee for a new pastor.

Survivors include his wife, Sondra Norrell-Thomas of Washington; a son, Norwood "Buzz" Thomas of Columbus, Ohio; and a grandson.