LAS CRUCES, NM — Thomas Blanton Gaines, 93, died in Las Cruces, New Mexico, on December 1, 2009.  He had been hospitalized for several months with complications from hip surgery.

Thomas was the first-born child of Ethel McCurdy and Hamilton Gaines, arriving April 21, 1916, in Comanche County.  His brothers are Jack Gaines of Odessa,  Newt Gaines of Murfreesboro, TN, and Joe Gaines of Stephenville.  His sisters are Laura Ellen Armstrong, of Stephenville, Lois Pettijohn of Brownwood and Connie Turley of Garland.

He met his future wife, Lorene Taylor, while he was working in a diner in Austin and attending the University of Texas.  They knew each other six months, married on May 15, 1940, and had 69 wonderful years together.  They have two daughters, Peggy Morrison of La Jolla, CA, and Wanda Shultz of Las Cruces, NM.

Thomas graduated from the University of Texas in Austin with a degree in biology.  He spent his career in toxicology research first for the US Public Health Service in Savannah, Georgia, then for the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, and finally for the National Center for Toxicological Research near Little Rock, AR.  Over the years, his work involved significant contributions to control of insects that carry serious disease and to assuring that the chemicals created for that purpose are harmless to humans and animals.  Much of his work was published in notable scientific journals.

He was very active in the Presbyterian Church, serving as an elder at Westover Hills Presbyterian Church in Little Rock, and as a deacon at Druid Hills Presbyterian Church in Atlanta.  In Little Rock, he worked as a volunteer for the Red Cross, AARP, and feeding the homeless.

During his life he loved working in his yard, visiting with family and friends, square dancing, traveling, and genealogy.  He and his wife, Lorene, researched and published family histories on the McCurdy and the Gaines families of his mother and father.  He also was a big University of Texas fan.  He was intelligent, kind, compassionate, generous, patriotic, a loving husband and dad, and an avid reader of history and current affairs.

In addition to his wife, brothers and sisters, and daughters, he is survived by two grandchildren, Jason Shultz and Taylor Morrison, one great grandchild, Aspen Shultz, and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.  All of us will miss his presence in our lives.

Visitation will be Saturday, December 5, at 10 a.m. at Harrell Funeral Home in Dublin. Funeral service will be there at 2 p.m. on Saturday. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Thomas’ memory to the Wounded Warrior Project at or to the charity of your choice.

Published December 3, 2009

Stephenville Empire-Tribune