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January 14, 2014

Former GBC mayor dies

Randal ‘Tye’ Thomas found dead in Rhode Island

Athens — Randal “Tye” Thomas, 35, passed away suddenly in Providence, R.I.  Thomas, former Mayor of Gun Barrel City,  had recently relocated from Dallas to Providence.

Thomas made history when he was elected Mayor of Gun Barrel City.  At the time, he was the youngest person to be elected as a mayor of any city in Texas. Thomas, who was 21, won with 67 percent of the vote to become mayor of a city with a population of 5,000. His term didn't last long, Thomas resigned after 54 weeks.

Thomas continued to make history when he was elected to serve as a member of the Electoral College for the 2000 Presidential race, becoming the state’s youngest elector at age 22. 

According to people who knew Thomas, he had what could be called an entrepreneurial personality. While a student a Mabank High School, Thomas published a monthly paper called Cedar Creek Briefs. The young businessman started two newspapers in Henderson County when he was 21-years-old. Thomas was at one time considered a rising star in the Texas Republican Party. 

The Mabank native got his first taste of politics while earning his marketing degree at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I.  Thomas narrowly was elected student body president in his freshman year after five days of recounting votes.  Thomas often said his plans for the future were to run for Texas State Representative.

In 2000, Thomas was forced to resign as Mayor because of accusations of misusing city equipment and perjury.  Thomas had been making a name for himself with spreads in publications such as Texas Monthly.

Many of Thomas' friends took to Facebook to express their surprise and sorrow after hearing of his passing.

Maj. David Lapatin, Commanding Officer of the Investigation division of the Providence Police Department  said the department received a call from someone in Texas to make a wellness check on a Tye Thomas on Bash Road in Providence. The person said Thomas was not answering his phone or texts. The Providence Police were told that was unusual.

Thomas did not answer the door when police arrived. The officers located an unlocked window, and were able to gain entrance to the house. Thomas was lying on a mattress, and appeared to be deceased, according to Lapatin. Thomas was pronounced dead at the scene on Monday, Jan. 13 at 12:30 p.m. Lapatin said the death did not appear to be suspicious.

Funeral arrangements for Thomas have not been confirmed.

Lapatin said the police had spoken to family members.

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