About Elbert Duncan Thomas
Elbert Duncan Thomas (June 17, 1883 – February 11, 1953) was a Democratic Party politician from Utah. He represented Utah in the United States Senate from 1933 until 1951.
Elbert Duncan Thomas was born in Salt Lake City, Utah on June 17, 1883 to Caroline Stockdale and Richard Kendall Thomas. He was the fifth of twelve children. His parents loved the arts, especially the theater. They built the first Children's Playhouse west of the Mississippi River in a barn on their property, which they named the Barnacle. Elbert was involved in many plays held for the public in the Barnacle. His father was involved in local government and held conventions and political rallies at the Barnacle. His family later moved to a home across from what is now the Conference Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This home is on the National Historical Landmark Registry.
Thomas married Edna Harker on June 25, 1907 in the Salt Lake City Temple and they had three daughters together. Edna died in 1942, and Elbert later met and married Ethel Evans in 1946 in the Salt Lake City Temple.
Thomas served a mission to Japan for the LDS Church with his first wife, from 1907-1912. He was one of the first LDS missionaries sent to Japan, and his first daughter, Chiyo, was born there. Elbert developed a deep love for the Japanese people and learned to speak Japanese fluently. He was the author of Sukui No Michi, the Japanese translation of the Mormon tract Way of Salvation. On his return from Japan, he became a Professor of Political Science and History at the University of Utah (where he had received his B.A. in 1906). He taught Latin, Greek and Japanese culture, as well as being a Political Science and History professor and eventually an Administrator on the Board of Regents at the University of Utah for many years.
Thomas was first elected to the Senate as a Democrat in 1932, defeating Republican Reed Smoot. He served on the Committee on Education and Labor (of which he was the Chairman), the Committee on Military Affairs, the Mines and Mining Committee, and the Committee on Labor and Public Welfare. Thomas served three terms before being defeated for reelection by Wallace F. Bennett in 1950.
In 1951, he was appointed High Commissioner over the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. Elbert died in Honolulu, Hawaii on February 11, 1953. He was buried in the Thomas family plot in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.