William F. Thomas
2011 Outstanding Entrepreneur
William “Bill” Thomas leads by example and inspires those around him to be their best in life and business. This mindset has been foundational to his overall success and for the past two decades has keenly guided his path toward his nationally recognized position as a leader in the senior housing industry. Bill’s wit lifts the spirits of those who surround him and underscores his positive multifaceted approach to building a successful business.
In many ways, Bill was a born entrepreneur with his own best friend and twin brother, Bob, as his lifelong partner. The siblings’ first entrepreneurial business opportunity began at the age of nine when they launched a lawn mowing business, defining a partnership built on trust, enthusiasm, and unfettered exploration of new ideas. This spirit has defined Bill’s approach to business and community service.
With Bob by his side, the brothers founded their real estate investment and operating company in 1976. Recognizing the growing demographic trends of the Baby Boomer generation, they shifted their focus to the senior housing industry in 1989, founding Senior Star Living. Today, the Senior Star Living portfolio includes twelve retirement communities in six states that offer independent, assisted living and memory care options to nearly 2,000 residents.
Under Bill’s chairmanship of the national American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA), he and Bob were the catalysts in laying out a three-year plan that introduced a new fundraising approach for the organization. His leadership changed how ASHA, through their advocacy of issues important to seniors, saw itself. In three years’ time, the annual fundraising for ASHA grew from $40,000 to more than $500,000 annually, an increase of more than 1000 percent.
Bill is the chairman of the Tulsa Community Foundation Board of Trustees and serves in volunteer leadership positions for a number of other local nonprofit organizations including LIFE Senior Services, Sooner Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, The University of Tulsa Board of Trustees, Philbrook Museum of Art, the Domestic Violence Intervention Service, and the 2012 Philbrook Wine Experience with his wife, Susan.
He received a Bachelor of Science degree in political science from The University of Tulsa in 1975. Bill has two children, Will and Abigail. He and Susan reside in Tulsa.