Retired attorney and political advisor William Griffith Thomas died Jan. 23. He was 80. Mr. Thomas maintained homes in Irvington and Livingston, Montana.
A lifelong Virginia resident, Mr. Thomas graduated from the University of Richmond law school in 1963. He established a practice in Alexandria that grew into the firm of Hazel & Thomas. In 1999 he helped that firm merge with Reed Smith, an international law firm headquartered in Pennsylvania. Mr. Thomas remained a longtime partner in the firm’s Virginia offices and specialized in real estate, tax and land use law, banking and commercial litigation until he retired.
Mr. Thomas’ professional interests lay at the intersection of law and politics. His legal career at Reed Smith spanned an administrative practice before Virginia state agencies, a legislative practice before the state’s General Assembly and a land-use and administrative practice before all Northern Virginia jurisdictions and agencies.
A former chair of the Virginia Democratic Party, Mr. Thomas was also a close adviser to former Govs. Charles Robb and Gerald Baliles. He received a governor’s appointment to serve on the Board of the Center for Innovative Technology, the Board of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and as the Virginia member of the Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority.
Mr. Thomas was involved with a number of legal organizations. He was a Fellow of the Virginia Law Foundation, served on the boards of the Virginia State University, was a Life Member of the American Law Institute as well as a member of the Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference. He also served for 13 years on the Board of Directors of Virginia Electric & Power Company (now Dominion Energy) and Perpetual Savings Bank.
Mr. Thomas received many awards and recognitions. He was selected by his peers for inclusion in “The Best Lawyers in America” for Government Relations Practice from 2013-20, by “Washington, D.C. Super Lawyer” from 2010-2019 was recognized as a BTI Client Service Super All-Star in 2017.
He is survived by his wife, Suzanne Campbell Foster; his two sons, William and Alexander; his daughter, Margaret; five grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.