Dubai: John M. Thomas, noted educationist and founder-chairman of Gulf Indian High School, died today. He was 79. Thomas leaves behind his wife Annamma John, son Wynn John and daughter Wilcy.

Born in the Pathanamthitta district of Kerala on April 28, 1943, Thomas was actively involved in philanthropic activities in the field of education. He set up Gulf Indian High School in 1979 with 200 students and 35 teachers.

Muhammad Ali Kottakkulam, principal of Gulf Indian High School, paid his respects to the late founder. “I have lost a father figure. He was a visionary leader and such an inspiration. He was a very kind soul and did much for the education fraternity in the UAE. He will be missed.”

The Gulf Indian High School has put up a tribute on the school’s website, expressing gratitude towards his laudable service and grieving the irreparable loss. In a message to students and parents, the school said: “He was a visionary with a solid determination to translate his vision into reality. A leader who led by example and tempered all his dealings with compassion and sensitivity. He was much respected by the locals and the Indian community.”

The school website still bears a touching message from the late founder and chairman of Gulf Indian High School, which says: “When we started the school in 1979, we wanted to partner in the educational sector of Dubai by offering value-based education that will in turn contribute to the growth of this city ... An African proverb says: ‘It takes a village to raise a child ...’ That simple statement, yet so profound in its wisdom, is one of the cornerstones of Gulf Indian High School’s (GIHS) ethos. Education is the key to UAE’s future success in an increasingly globalised economy. With education emerge qualified human resources to turn the engines of the nation’s prosperity.”

Humayun Iqbal, an English and Moral Science teacher for 35 years at the school, said she was very sad with the demise of the late founder-chairman. “Our cherished founder and chairman was a very tolerant, compassionate and humble person. He was always helpful towards the staff. In any critical situation, he stood by the staff. For example, during the pandemic, he did not terminate any staff member. He always had a solution to every problem.”