Thomas Lees is a big fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Centerville Elks. He graduated from OSU in 1955, the year his fraternity brother Howard “Hopalong” Cassady won the Heisman Trophy. Thomas also has a grandson on the golf team at CHS, so he proudly wore an Elks golf shirt when he made his milestone 100th lifetime blood donation Aug. 10 at the Dayton Community Blood Center.
Thomas and his wife Nancy have six children – all of which graduated from CHS, and two from OSU. They also have 17 grandchildren (14 of them CHS graduates) and three great-grandchildren.
Thomas has been a loyal Buckeye fan since his student days at OSU in the Air Force ROTC. He was a fellow Sigma Chi with Hopalong, who he remembers as “a great guy.” He’s been an OSU football season-ticket holder for 47 years. “The kids get the football tickets now,” he said, but a highlight for him was following the Buckeyes to Pasadena for the ’97 Rose Bowl.
Thomas was born in Piqua and grew up in Dayton. After college he spent three years in the Air Force and another four in the reserves, rose to the rank of captain, and was briefly called back to active duty during the Cuban missile crisis. He spent 36 years with GM’s Inland Division in Dayton and retired in ’91.
“I was excited about it,” he said when it came time for his milestone 100th donation. As an O negative blood type, he is a “universal donor” and that compels him to keep donating. “That’s good for both of us,” he said, noting that everyone can receive O negative blood, but O negative patients can only receive O negative. “My dad was an O negative,” he said.
Finally, as someone who has raised a family of OSU and CHS fans, Thomas feels a duty to children. He’s both a “universal donor” and a “baby donor,” someone who has not been exposed to cytomegalovirus, or CMV. Hospitals prefer to use CMV negative blood for pediatric units to ensure the safety of blood transfusions to newborns.
As Thomas said, “It helps the babies, who pretty much need it.”