By Rebecca Billman
The Cincinnati Enquirer
BELLEVUE - Robert Graham Thomas Jr., a Bellevue native who, with his brother, Michael, built a company that became a leader in the public safety mapping field, died of apparent cardiac arrest Sunday in Palm Springs, Calif. He was 50.
He was CEO of 911 Mapping Systems Inc. in Florence, his company that served as the model for 911 mapping systems used nationally. Mr. Thomas, known as "Robbie," worked tirelessly to make the company a success.
When he was a student at Bellevue High School, Mr. Thomas was what his son Aaron of Fort Thomas called a "triple threat," an athlete who lettered all four years in football, basketball and tennis.
But tennis was his gift and passion. Xavier University awarded him a tennis scholarship after his high school graduation in 1970 and he met formidable foes such as Jimmy Connors in the NCAA Tournament.
Mr. Thomas earned a degree from Xavier then enrolled in the National College of Chiropractic in Lombard, Ill., receiving a chiropractic degree in 1976. He practiced in Newport from 1978 to 1980 and in Illinois from 1980 to 1983.
After that, he and his brother founded PS Publications Inc. They developed a digital mapping system to produce maps for chambers of commerce across the company.
When it became apparent that the software had applications much broader than making traditional maps, they began developing software that linked the mapping technology with emergency dispatch systems.
Three years ago, Mr. Thomas moved to Palm Springs, where he "became quite a scratch golfer," his son said.
In addition to his son, survivors include: his wife of 1‡ years, Vicki Ballantyne; another son, Christopher Thomas of Bellevue; a stepson, Brett of Palm Springs; his father, Robert Thomas Sr. of Villa Hills; his brother, Michael Harry Thomas of Fort Thomas; and his first wife, Cathy Helms of Green Township.
The family will greet friends at 7 p.m. Jan. 2 at Dobbling Funeral Home, 106 S. Fort Thomas Ave. in Fort Thomas. A memorial service follows at 8:30 p.m. Mr. Thomas' remains have been cremated.
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