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Calvert Thomas, 88, General Motors attorney


Calvert Thomas, a descendant of Maryland's founding family who became a leading attorney for the General Motors Corp., died Friday at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut. He was 88 and had suffered from prostate cancer.

He was born and raised in Baltimore, where he competed in wrestling and lacrosse at the YMCA and graduated from Polytechnic Institute.

Mr. Thomas received his bachelor's degree from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., where he became a two-time conference wrestling champion.

After earning his law degree at the University of Maryland, he held jobs with the federal government before moving to Michigan in 1947 to join General Motors' legal staff.

For almost three decades, he served as GM's tax counsel, then spent his last five years with the company in the New York office as corporate secretary and assistant general counsel.

After 32 years with GM, he retired to become owner of a Cadillac and Jaguar dealership in Hartford, Conn., and settled in West Hartford. The business is now headed by his two sons.

He took a keen interest in family genealogy, tracing his ancestry to George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore.

His son Douglas Mackubin Thomas said he combined a gentlemanly demeanor with a fierce competitiveness.

"Two years ago, his twentysomething-year-old grandsons decided to show him how good they were in archery," his son recalled. "My father turned around and bested them even though he carried a cane and had a hard time standing erect."

In his later years, he became an avid duckpin bowler at his golf club in Connecticut. "He was hell on wheels with croquet, could do anything," his son said.

A memorial service, still in the planning stages, will be held next month.

He is also survived by his wife of 61 years, Margaret Somervell Berry Thomas of Bloomfield, Conn.; his son Calvert Bowie Thomas of Simsbury, Conn.; his daughter, Carolyn Brooke Thomas Dold of Houston; and three grandchildren.

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