With the passing of W. E. "Gene" Thomas on January 30, 2019, the college has lost a good friend. Gene first served on the Local Board of SVCC from 1978 until 1989, a total of 11 years. Reappointed to the Board in 2005, he served until 2013. From 1996 to 2004, Thomas was a distinguished member of the Virginia State Board for Community Colleges having been appointed by two Governors, George Allen and Jim Gilmore.
Mr. Thomas has served on the SVCC Foundation Board since its inception in 1983, and over the years has served as a member of the Finance, Executive, Nominating and Scholarship Committees. Thomas and his wife endowed a scholarship through the college in the name of Dr. John J. Cavan who served as President of SVCC from 1983 to 2014. He was instrumental in the establishment of the endowed Howell Scholarship and most recently established the Gene and Mary Alice Thomas Scholarship. He has been called a "true blue" supporter of the Foundation who understands its role and value to the community.
On Wednesday, April 23, 2008, the Virginia Community College System recognized Gene Thomas as the SVCC recipient of The Chancellor's Award for Leadership in Philanthropy and the following appeared in the event program: