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Harold Ashton Thomas

Died: May 17, 2009

Harold Ashton Thomas was a larger-than-life figure who arrived at Yale from New Orleans with a “southern swagger with drawl,” as his roommate Dave Monahan writes. He loved New Orleans, contract bridge, bourbon, and a lovely girl from Smith, Linda Murphy, whom he married shortly after college.

Harold’s room was the site of an all-day and all-night bridge party that usually left its players exhausted and asleep. He was a jazz lover who brought his Erma Thomas records up from New Orleans. Harold originally planned to be a doctor and follow in the footsteps of his father, who practiced at New Orleans’ Charity Hospital. But, like many pre-med students, he more than met his match in organic chemistry and decided instead to become a lawyer.

Harold entered LSU law school and became a life-long Tiger fan (and later a Saints fan.) He and Linda quickly had three children (Ashton, Alison and Kaitlen) and Harold developed a fine reputation as a medical malpractice defense lawyer, founding his own law firm. He volunteered time to serve the New Orleans Blood Center. He led an exuberant life, with his own table at Antoine’s and his favorite waiter to serve him. He was renowned for his good humor, wit and taste for whiskey.

He owned and operated a shrimp boat in the Gulf of Mexico and was an excellent cook, barbecue shrimp being his specialty. Out-of-town visitors were sometimes treated to a Gulf cruise, a shrimp dinner and a stop for frozen daiquiris on the return trip to the airport.

But his “world came tumbling down,” in Dave Monahan’s words, when his beloved Linda died of an allergic reaction to a shot of penicillin. In Dave’s thinking, “He never really recovered.” He was left with three young children and the staggering pain of losing the love of his life. He married again, but it didn’t take.

Over time, life spiraled down for Harold, as the pain of his loss added to the stress of his job and other issues. In the process he lost his law practice and his health. He remained a good father and grandfather, but no longer worked as a lawyer. He moved to Atlanta to become a full-time grandfather for Allison’s family and later to Nashville for medical reasons.

Harold died May 17, 2009, too soon to see his beloved Saints win the Superbowl.