Lovan Barton Thomas, publisher of The Natchitoches Times, passed away peacefully at his home Sunday morning, Aug. 13, 2023.
Services will be Wednesday, Aug. 23, at the First United Methodist Church on Second Street in Natchitoches. Visitation will be at 9 a.m. with services at 11 a.m. A private burial will be in the American Cemetery on Second Street for family and close friends.
Mr. Thomas was preceded in death by his wife Patricia; mother Elsie Mae Childers, step-mother Freda Scoggins Thomas, father Maxwell John Thomas, sister Mary Galen Thomas, uncle Kenneth Thomas, aunt Ann Childers Barton, uncle Norman F. Childers and granddaughter Madeleine Renee Mayo.
He is survived by his daughter, Tracy Thomas Mayo; son, Maxwell John Thomas II and his husband Gabriel Masson; grandson Lovan Thomas Mayo; sister-in-law Kathleen Wilson Farmer; brother-in-law John Oliver Wilson and his wife Beclee Newcomer Wilson; and cousin Galen Clavier.
Pallbearers will be members of the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia at Northwestern State University.
Honorary pallbearers are Scriven Taylor, Burton Weaver, Senator Don Kelly, John Luster, the late Sam Friedman, the late Jerry Pierce, the late Bill Rush, the late Judge Jerry Stillman, Steve Colwell, Carolyn Roy, Jerry Hooper, and the staff of The Natchitoches Times, and members of the Agitators, Dirty Dozen, Gerousia lunch group, and his golfing group. Thomas was an active member of the Natchitoches community.
He was a past president of Rotary Club, Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony Society and the Natchitoches Industries Board. For 35 years he served on the Board of Directors for Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts. He also served on the Louisiana Board of Trustees for Universities and Colleges, Red River Waterway Commission, Natchitoches Tourist Commission, Natchitoches Chamber of Commerce and Peoples Bank and Trust Co. Board of Directors.
He was a charter member of Mystic Krewe de St. Denis and Southern Trace County Club in Shreveport.
He enjoyed membership in several mens organizations including the Dirty Dozen, Agitators, Gerousia, Walter Ledet Coffee Club and a couples supper club called Happy Bunch.
Thomas enjoyed many activities, including duck hunting, golfing, snow skiing, scuba diving, boating and landscape gardening. He was an accomplished artist having painted in oils.
A member of the 50 Year Club in the Louisiana newspaper industry, he served the Louisiana Press Association as president and spent over two decades serving on its Board of Directors. He was a pioneer in the industry installing one of the first web offset presses in the state and often times lending a hand to fellow publishers in need.
He and his wife purchased a number of community newspapers throughout Northwest and Central Louisiana. Current newspapers that are part of The Natchitoches Times family include the Colfax Chronicle, Sabine Index, Winn Parish Enterprise, Coushatta Citizen, Mansfield Enterprise, Bienville Democrat, Caddo Citizen, Springhill Press, Armed Forces Retiree News and Piney Woods Journal. He has also published newspapers in Bossier City, Homer, Haynesville, Jonesboro, Leesville, Deridder, Central and even published the Louisiana Jaycee News for a brief time.
Lovan Barton Thomas was born Feb. 15, 1937 in Carlsbad, NM to Elsie Mae Childers of Booneville, MO, and Maxwell John Thomas. In 1943, the family moved to New Iberia after the marriage of his father to his second wife, Freda Beatrice Scoggins of Welsh.
During World War II, while his father served in the US. Army, he lived for a time with his grandparents, John H. and Eudoxia Clavier Thomas, on the family farm in Kingfisher, OK.
They also owned the local movie theater and the Thomas name is still visible in the brickwork across the front of the building. Young Lovan spent happy summers working on the family farm in Newkirk, OK with Uncle Kenneth Thomas.
Around 1945 the family moved from New Iberia, where his father owned the Daily Iberian, to Crowley after his father purchased the Crowley Daily Signal and started radio station KSIG in Crowley and KJEF in Jennings. Thomas grew up in Crowley working with his father in the newspaper business and graduated from Crowley High School in 1956. He was a member of the state championship football team.
He attended the University of Oklahoma to study architecture and then transferred to the University of Missouri School of Journalism, and later attended the University of Texas to study business. At the University of Missouri he met his wife, Patricia Ann Wilson of Rolla, MO. He also served as president of his fraternity, Phi Kappa Alpha.
Thomas was drafted into the U.S. Army and was stationed at Fort Chaffee, AR where he was editor of the post newspaper, the Fort Chaffee Sentinel.
After his discharge from the U.S. Army, Thomas worked in public relations for Freeport-McMoran in New Orleans.
In 1967, he and his wife and almost four 4-year-old daughter Tracy moved to Natchitoches where he purchased The Natchitoches Times from Charles Cunningham. A son, Maxwell John Thomas II, was born in 1968.
In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made to:
Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony Society-Scholarship Fund, c/o Gayle Howell, 1050 Hwy. 494, Natchitoches, LA 71457