Aaron Thomas Recipient of Alumni Award

EUGENE – Aaron Thomas, who displayed the same dedication and compassion as a former walk-on defensive back and special teams reserve as he did in expanding the family business along the Southern Oregon Coast, will be honored as the 45th recipient of the Leo Harris Award as part of this weekend's festivities that includes Friday's Oregon's Athletics Hall-of-Fame ceremonies.

The award, which is named after the university's first formal director of athletics, Leo Harris (1948-67), was established in 1967 to recognize an Oregon men's varsity letterman who has been out of school for at least 20 years and has earned distinction for himself in his profession, in his community and in his support for the University of Oregon.

The former three-sport Marshfield High School standout and 1989 Oregon graduate returned to Coos Bay in 1992 to join Thomas and Sons before being elevated to president of the family business in 1997.

The multi-faceted corporation originally encompassed a wholesale beverage distribution center, a recycling company and an interstate trucking and lumber reload operation, but has since concentrated its efforts in the interstate trucking industry along the Western United States. The enterprise annually provides for the livelihoods of approximately 160 families.

In addition to his professional endeavors, Thomas has been an active supporter of a number of non-profit organizations along the Southern Oregon Coast, including the Boys and Girls Club of Southwestern Oregon, Hospice, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate), as well as local food banks. He also has helped establish the South Coast Youth Football League, which is a youth football association that began catering to kids in the fifth and sixth grades and will expand to encompass third and fourth graders this year.

The two-year Oregon letterman overcame injuries to become one of the program's leaders from 1985-88 before earning his B.S. degree in political science in 1989.

He began his professional career working for E & J Gallo Winery in Southern California, advancing to area manager in 1992, before returning to his hometown of Coos Bay.

Thomas will be recognized at a Friday night dinner that will include the induction of the school's 19th Athletics Hall of Fame class. Those honorees include track & field World record-holder Roscoe Cook, football All-American Tom Drougas, track & field Olympian Ken Flax, men's national champion gymnast Scott McEldowney, women's softball

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