Edward Arthur Thomas was born to Authrine and Roy Thomas in 1950. He was born in Oskaloosa, Iowa and raised in What Cheer, Iowa. He played football; his position was quarterback. Thomas was the oldest of 5, having 3 younger sisters and one younger brother. He graduated from Tri-County High School in Thornburg, Iowa in 1968 and obtained degrees from William Penn College and the University of Northern Iowa.
Thomas had coached 37 years of Aplington-Parkersburg Falcon football and won two state titles and a total of 292 games. He is credited with having coached four NFL players, which is the most per capita of any high school in the nation. The NFL players he coached while coaching at Aplington-Parkersburg include Aaron Kampman, Brad Meester, Jared DeVries, and Casey Wiegmann. In 2005, Thomas won the prestigious NFL High School Coach of the Year award. Landon Schrage was signed in 2006 as a long snapper for the Baltimore Ravens, making him the 5th player under Coach Thomas to reach the NFL. He is known for his actions due to the tornado that hit his city. He told everyone on his team to toughen up, and they fixed their football stadium before their opening day game. Thomas won the state championship in 1993 and 2001.
Ed Thomas was murdered on June 24, 2009, by a mentally ill former player who had been released from a Waterloo Hospital less than 24 hours prior to the shooting. Thomas was in a room with 20 football and volleyball players, many of whom testified at the trial. Ed Thomas was shot 6 or 7 times according to the medical examiner. He also suffered blunt force injuries to his head, chest and legs, which were caused by being stomped on after being shot.