Arva Anthony (Tony) Thomas was returning to his family in Detroit, Michigan, from Germany where he had been living and studying since September. He was an active member of the New Jerusalem Baptist Church in Detroit, where he sang in the Inspirational Choir and the Angelic Choir. In addition, he was choir director and an acolyte. He played on the church basketball team and was a member of the young men's fellowship group.
Tony attended Zion Lutheran High School, St. Hedwig High School, and Hanau American High School in West Germany. He was a popular student and was especially well known for his talents on the basketball court. He played point guard and wore uniform number 23, in honor of his idol, Michael Jordan.
Neighborhood friends remember Tony's friendliness and courage. But all he wanted to be known as was "Tender Tone." Tony is survived by his parents, Arva Lee and Funteller; his sister, Rev. Felicia Thomas; and his brothers Rev. Frank Thomas and Lester Thomas. On December 1, 1988, Tony wrote to a family friend, "I love you and be good. I'm staying with God and I know you are too."
In September just before he left Detroit for Germany, Tony wrote the poem, "Colored":
When I'm cold, I'm black
When you're cold, you're blue,
When I'm hot, I'm black
When you're hot, you're red,
When I'm sick, I'm black
When you're sick, you're green,
When I'm bruised, I'm black
When you're bruised, you're purple
When I'm tan, I'm black
When you're tan, you're brown
When I'm well, I'm black
When you're well, you're pink
And you have the nerve to call me colored.
—Arva Anthony Thomas
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